A list of supposed changes to New Zealand welfare benefits, including a cut to Jobseeker payments of more than $NZ60 a week, is circulating on social media.
The list is fake. The New Zealand government has told AAP FactCheck none of the changes on the list are set to happen as of April as claimed.
In particular, the government instead announced back in December it would index the main benefits to CPI inflation from April 1.
The text, which has been widely shared on Facebook – examples here, here, here, here and here – is claimed to be “a current list of changes confirmed for WINZ benefits” that has been “confirmed by case manager”.
Among the supposed changes listed are (all monetary values are in $NZ):
• “Solo parent benefit increases by $87.40”
• “Job seeker decreases by $62.30 a week”
• “Accommodation supplement max will be decreased by 30%”
• “The government will sell 40% of government and social housing to investors by 2025”
• “Food grants — solo people will only be able to apply for $80 every six months; solo parents $100 every six months; family with kids and couple $140 per six months”
• “In November only 21+ and over can receive the Jobseeker benefit”
• “Drug testing for job seekers will be introduced and benefits reduced for anyone caught”
The Work and Income website shows the current benefit rates: the sole parent support payment, for example, is currently $NZ472.79 after tax and the Jobseeker support payment ranges from $NZ250.63 per week after tax for a single 18-19-year-old person living at home, to $NZ606.86 for a married couple with children.
Both the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the responsible minister have told AAP FactCheck the social media claims are false.
MSD acting group general manager Graham Allpress said the ministry was aware of the list on social media.
“There has been no change to current policy,” he said.
“When there are changes to a person’s entitlement MSD communicates directly with the affected client. If a client’s circumstances change they should inform the Ministry.”
AAP FactCheck sent the list of purported changes and the social media post to Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston.
Ms Upston said: “None of the changes you have identified are confirmed to happen on 1 April 2024.”
The minister said benefit and payment rates were adjusted each year and for 2024 the government would use consumer price index (CPI) data to calculate main benefit payments from April 1.
“How much those on main benefits receive will be determined by the CPI when Stats NZ updates it later this month, subject to Cabinet approval,” Ms Upston said.
“Based on the current economic climate, this decision is expected to mean main benefits will be higher on 1 April 2024 than they would have been if we had retained the previous government’s direction to index them to wage growth.”
Regarding other changes in the post not covered by the annual adjustment to benefit rates, Ms Upston said: “The government has not instructed MSD to make them, nor is it actively considering them”.
The claim NZ Jobseeker benefits will fall by more than $NZ60 as part of a raft of social welfare changes to be introduced as of April is false.
The NZ Ministry of Social Development and Social Development and employment minister say the supposed changes are not being implemented and are not being considered.
In particular, as announced in December, the government will index main benefits to CPI inflation from April 1.
False — The claim is inaccurate