Cabinet has agreed to make it easier for low income workers to receive assistance for items such as food and other emergency costs.
The extended COVID-19 restrictions are having an impact on low income households who tend to have less certainty of work. Currently a single person working 30 hours per week on the minimum wage is not eligible for hardship assistance from Work and Income. We’re lifting the income limits for assistance to 40 hours at the minimum wage, or $800 per week and $1,600 per week for a couple with or without children.
Expanding the income limits for Hardship Support will mean more low income individuals and families will be able to get support.
The temporary income eligiblity criteria will come into force from 1 November for 4 months. 28 February 2022 will be the last day the increased limits will apply.
To ensure people who are not currently accessing support from MSD are aware of the availability of hardship assistance to meet immediate and essential needs, MSD will run a comprehensive communications campaign.
This is an investment of $9.6 million into low income workers. We expect there to be up to 25,000 more grants made by MSD to people not currently receiving help from MSD, for needs such as food, clothing and additional costs for electricity.
We are continuing to monitor need in the community and will respond quickly where it arises.