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Notice of changes to Social Security Act welfare programmes and/or Ministerial directions

We publish notices of changes, and the document setting out the changes, to make sure changes to legislation are open, transparent and publically available.

Consolidated versions of welfare programmes and Ministerial directions are available on Map.

Housing Support Assistance Amendment 2020

The Minister for Social Development has signed and approved an instrument that amends the Housing Support Assistance Programme.

The Housing Support Assistance Amendment 2020 increases the maximum grant of rent arrears assistance from $2000 to $4000 and removes the requirement that applicants are only eligible for rent arrears assistance if they are not eligible for other financial assistance for rent arrears which is payable to them under the Social Security Act 2018. These amendments will be revoked on 1 January 2021. The instrument also replaces references to the Housing Restructuring and Tenancy Matters Act 1992 with references to the Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992.

COVID-19 Income Relief Payment Programme

The Minister for Social Development has signed and approved this welfare programme, which establishes the COVID-19 Income Relief Payment. This payment provides up to 12 weeks of financial assistance to eligible people who have lost their employment due to the impacts of COVID-19, aiming to soften the shock from unemployment and minimise disruption for people as they seek new employment.

COVID-19 New Zealanders Stranded Overseas Support Amendment 2020

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument that amends the COVID-19 New Zealanders Stranded Overseas Support Programme. The instrument comes into force on 28 April 2020 and corrects several technical errors in the principal programme.

Christchurch Mosques Attack Amendment (No 2) 2020

The Minister for Social Development has approved an instrument which amends the Christchurch Mosques Attack Programme to extend its expiry date to 4 June 2021, and revokes the Christchurch Mosques Attack Amendment 2020 as it extended the programme to an incorrect date. The instrument comes into force on 1 June 2020.

COVID-19 New Zealanders Stranded Overseas Support Programme

17 April 2020

The Minister for Social Development had signed an instrument that provides non-recoverable special assistance to New Zealand beneficiaries and superannuants who are stranded overseas because of the effects of COVID-10, until it can be reasonably expected that they can return to New Zealand.

Ministerial Direction - Disability Allowance Amendment 2020

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument amending the Ministerial Direction on Disability Allowance. The instrument provides that when granting or reviewing a person’s entitlement to any disability allowance, verification of any particular expense is not required if a state of local emergency or state of national emergency is in force, an epidemic notice has been given, and is in force or an event has occurred where it is reasonable to expect that either a state of emergency or epidemic notice may be imminent. The instrument comes into force on 20 April 2020.

Christchurch Mosques Attack Amendment 2020

5 April 2020

The Minister for Social Development has approved a change to the Christchurch Mosques Attack Programme to extend its expiry date to 2 June 2021. This change comes into force on 1 June 2020.

Approval for rural assistance under Special Needs Grants Programme

26 March 2020

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument that gives approval under the Special Needs Grants Programme to make Rural Assistance Payments to the farmers affected by drought in the affected areas. The changes will commence on 26 March 2020 and will apply until the close of 25 November 2020.

Special Needs Grants Amendment Programme (No 1) – emergency housing policy settings

25 March 2020

The Minister for Social Development has approved amendments to the Special Needs Grants Programme so that the recent emergency housing policy changes will now come into effect from 19 October 2020. This includes the emergency housing contribution

Income Support Package (Transitional Assistance) Amendment 2020

24 March 2020

This instrument, which comes into force on the day after the date on which it is made, is the Income Support Package (Transitional Assistance) Amendment 2020 given on 23 March 2020 and is made under section 101 of the Social Security Act 2018. The programme extends the grant of temporary financial assistance to people who experience an overall reduction in assistance as a result of the increase to main benefits on 1 April 2020 made by the COVID-19 Recovery Package. The instrument also corrects minor technical and formatting errors in the principal programme.

Annual General Adjustment changes to rates and thresholds - amendments to welfare programmes and the Direction in relation to Special Benefit

6 March 2020

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument updating a Ministerial direction and a number of welfare programmes. The changes will commence on 1 April 2020. The amendments adjust certain rates and thresholds to reflect a 1.66% increase in the New Zealand Consumers Price Index, as well as minimum wage and average regional rents for two specified rates, respectively. There is also an amendment to the Special Needs Grants Programme to adjust the income abatement rate for assistance to Farmers in line with Income Support Package decisions.

Rural Assistance Payments for farmers affected by drought

2 March 2020

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument that gives approval under the Special Needs Grants Programme to make Rural Assistance Payments to the farmers affected by drought in the following affected areas:

  • The territories of the Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara District Council.
  • The Albany, North Shore, Rodney, Waitākere, Waitematā and Gulf, and Whau ward areas of the Auckland Council.

The changes will commence on 2 March 2020 and will apply until the close of 2 November 2020.

Income Support Package (Transitional Assistance) Programme

02 March 2020

The Minister for Social Development has made a new welfare programme under section 101 of the Social Security Act that comes into force on 1 April 2020. This is called the Income Support Package (Transitional Assistance) Programme. People who are unintentionally financially disadvantaged by the combined effects of the Income Support Package may receive temporary financial assistance for up to 12 months. Transitional assistance payments are available if a person’s childcare assistance, temporary additional support payments, or Christchurch Mosques Attack welfare programme payments reduce because of the Income Support Package 2019.

Changes to the policy settings for emergency housing special needs grants – amendments to the welfare programme and Ministerial Directions

28 February 2020

The Minister for Social Development has approved amendments to the Special Needs Grants Programme, the Ministerial Direction on Redirection of Benefit Payments and the Direction in relation to Special Benefit, to enable changes to the policy settings for emergency housing special needs grants (EH SNGs). The changes are effective from 30 March 2020.

The Special Needs Grants Amendment Programme 2020 allows MSD to extend the duration of EH SNGs in specified circumstances and to require an applicant to contribute 25 percent of their and their partner’s income towards the cost of emergency housing. The Ministerial Direction on Redirection of Benefit Payments Amendment 2020 creates a presumption that there is good cause to redirect a person’s benefit to ensure they meet their commitments for receiving an EH SNG. The Direction in relation to Special Benefit Amendment 2020 makes an emergency housing contribution and a transitional housing contribution an allowable cost for calculating special benefit.

Temporary Accommodation Assistance Amendment

17 December 2019

The Minister has approved amendments to the Temporary Accommodation Assistance (Canterbury Earthquake) Programme. The amendments allow temporary accommodation assistance under the Programme to be only granted to a person who applies for assistance under the Programme on or before 31 December 2019. The instrument inserts a new clause that revokes the Programme on 31 December 2020.

Employment and Work Readiness Assistance programme

17 December 2019

The Minister for Social Development has approved changes to Employment and Work Readiness Assistance Programme. These changes, which come into force on 16 January 2020, will restrict funding for course costs for longer education or training courses under the programme to courses which are Level 3 and below on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment Amendment Programme

25 November 2019

The Minister for Social Development has approved an amendment to the Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment Programme, which comes into force on 1 January 2020. The amendment is needed following a change in cohort entry policy which means that no children can start school before they turn five.

The amendment ensures that the Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment can be paid for a child enrolled in a cohort entry school until the first term or mid-term start date on or after the child’s fifth birthday.

Direction on Special Benefit Amendment

16 October 2019

The Minister for Social Development has approved an amendment to the Ministerial direction in relation to Special Benefit given on 10 February 1999. The Direction on Special Benefit Amendment (No 5) 2019, which comes into force on 17 October 2019, excludes as a person’s chargeable income for a period of 12 months:

  • any lump sum payment made to a person on or after 17 October 2019 by the Ministry of Social Development and
  • any income derived (directly or indirectly) by the person from such a payment.

Housing Support Assistance - amendment to the welfare programme

4 November 2019

The Minister for Social Development has approved amendments to the Housing Support Assistance welfare programme made under the Social Security Act 1964. The Housing Support Assistance Amendment, which comes into force on 4 November 2019, allows for recoverable grants of rent arrears assistance to specified people and revokes letting fees assistance payable under the programme because section 17A of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 makes it unlawful to charge letting fees.

Ex gratia and compensation payments exemption - amendment to the Direction in relation to Special Benefit

21 June 2019

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument updating a ministerial direction in relation to Special Benefit. The amendment exempts specified ex gratia and compensation payments and any income derived from such payments from being counted as chargeable income and removes the time limit by aligning with Schedule 8 of the Social Security Regulations 2018.

Christchurch Mosques Attack Welfare Programme - amendment to welfare programme

14 June 2019

The Minister for Social Development has approved amendments to the Christchurch Mosques Attack Welfare Programme (as established and approved on 27 May 2019) that will come into force on 14 June 2019.

The amendments widen the category of people who are eligible under the programme:

  • Clause 6 is being amended to enable a person who is applying for the Christchurch visa and has been granted or is eligible for the emergency benefit to receive payments under the Act or programme, but not both;
  • Clause 8 is being amended to extend the programme to the partners/spouses and parents of people who died, were injured or were present in the attacks.

Christchurch Mosques Attack Welfare Programme - new Ministerial welfare programme

3 June 2019

The Minister for Social Development has made a new welfare programme under section 101 of the Social Security Act 2018 (the Act) that comes into force on 3 June 2019.

The purpose of this programme is to provide for payments of special assistance to people who that have been affected by the Christchurch mosques attack but who do not qualify for support under the Social Security Act 2018. Part 2 of the programme specifies the people that the programme applies to.

People who fall under the programme can apply for the same types of support that is available to a person who meets the requirements of s 205(1) of the Act (refugees, protected persons, or people who are applying for permanent residence but are compelled to remain in New Zealand by unforeseen circumstances). The types and rates of support that are available, and the criteria that must be met to access them, are specified in Part 3.

This programme will expire on the close of June 4 2020.

Christchurch mosques attack support payments and Housing New Zealand’s zero-tolerance methamphetamine contamination policy exemption from income and cash asset tests - amendment to Direction in relation to Special Benefit

16 April 2019

The Minister for Social Development has signed two instruments updating a ministerial direction in relation to Special Benefit. The amendments excludes specific types of payments and income derived from specific payments from chargeable income for a period of 12 months.

Rural Assistance Payments for upper South Island farmers affected by drought and Tasman District fires in 2019 - amendment to welfare programme

12 April 2019

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument that gives approval under the Special Needs Grants Programme to make Rural Assistance Payments to farmers affected by the:

  • Tasman District fires in the Tasman District, and
  • 2019 drought in the districts of Buller, Marlborough, Nelson City, and Tasman.

The changes will commence on 12 April 2019 and will apply until the close of 12 October 2019.

Annual General Adjustment changes to rates and thresholds - amendments to welfare programmes and the Direction in relation to Special Benefit

1 April 2019

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument updating a Ministerial direction and a number of welfare programmes. The changes will commence on 1 April 2019. The amendments adjust certain rates and thresholds to reflect a 1.69% increase in the New Zealand Consumers Price Index, as well as minimum wage and average regional rents for two specified rates, respectively. There is also a minor technical change to amend a definition in the Special Needs Grants Programme.

Housing New Zealand’s zero-tolerance methamphetamine contamination policy exemption from income and asset tests - amendment to Direction in relation to Special Benefit

30 November 2018

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument to amend the Ministerial Direction in relation to Special Benefit that is effective from 30 November 2018. The amendment excludes the following as chargeable income for a period of 12 months:

  • any lump sum payment made to a person on or after 30 November 2018 by Housing New Zealand Corporation due to alleged methamphetamine contamination of the tenanted property; and
  • any income derived (directly or indirectly) by the person from such a payment)

Changes from the rewrite of social security legislation - amendments to welfare programmes and Ministerial directions

26 November 2018

The Minister for Social Development has signed an instrument updating current welfare programmes and Ministerial directions. The changes will commence on 28 November 2018. This is the same date the Social Security Act 2018 and Social Security Regulations 2018 commence.

For more information see:

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