Getting ongoing extra help
Help getting into work or self-employment
Work and Income provide a variety of assistance to those looking for jobs, starting a new job or setting up self-employment.
Training Incentive Allowance – available till June 2025 for undergraduate study
If you get the Supported Living Payment, or you’re a sole parent getting a benefit, you might be able to get the Training Incentive Allowance. This pays for the costs of doing a course or study as long as the course is:
- at least 12 weeks long, and
- at level 1 to 7 on the New Zealand Qualification Framework, and
- likely to increase your chance of getting into employment (after you finish your study).
You need to continue to meet any work-test obligations for your benefit while you are studying. If you have full-time work-test obligations (your youngest child is over 14), you will only be able to study part-time.
For each week of your course of study (up to 40 weeks a year), you can get the Training Incentive Allowance to cover the costs of studying. You can find the current maximum rate on Work and Income’s website, here (or go to workandincome.govt.nz and search “Benefit Rates April” and selecting “Benefit Rates at 1 April” for the relevant year). The amount you get is based on your actual costs of undertaking study (for example, course fees, a laptop, internet, childcare) and can be paid either as a one-off lump sum or a weekly allowance.
Transition to Work Grant
Social Security Act 2018, ss 101, 368
Employment and Work Readiness Assistance Programme, Sched, clause 6
You can receive up to $1,500 in a 12-month period to pay for:
- job interview costs, such as clothes and travel,
- the cost of interpreters,
- the cost of tools or clothing needed for work,
- moving costs, and
- living expenses until your first pay.
To get a Transition to Work grant, you must be at least 16 and be looking for a job, or starting a job, or between jobs. You’ll have to meet a cash-asset test and an income test.
5k to relocate for work
Social Security Act 2018, s 101
Employment and Work Readiness Assistance Programme, Sched, clause 6A
You can get paid a lump sum of $5,000 to move to where your job is based if:
- you or your partner are getting a main benefit (or would qualify for one), and
- you have a job offer of at least 30 hours a week (or less if it will enable you to support yourself without getting a benefit), and
- the job offer is for longer than 90 days.
You don’t have to pay the money back unless you leave your job within the first 91 days of employment without a good and sufficient reason (see: “Key words”).
New Employment Transition Grant
Social Security Act 2018, ss 101, 368 New Employment Transition Grant Programme
You can get a New Employment Transition Grant if you have a dependent child or children, and either:
- you can’t work because you, your partner or your dependent child is sick and you have no sick leave available, or
- there has been a breakdown in childcare arrangements, and you have no paid leave available.
You must also have stopped getting a benefit within the last six months. You can only get the grant if your partner can’t care for the child.
The current daily maximum payment is $86 and the maximum you can get over a six-month period is $860.
Seasonal Work Assistance Programme
Social Security Act 2018, ss 101 368 Seasonal Work Assistance Programme
You might be able to get payments under the Seasonal Work Assistance Programme if you’ve been on a benefit within the last six months and you’re prevented from working in a seasonal job because of bad weather. There is both a cash-asset test and an income test.
If you get offered a job that fulfils your work obligations, you might be able to get a temporary wage subsidy to ‘top-up’ the wages paid by your employer. This subsidy supports employers to take on people who otherwise would not meet the entry-level requirements for a job, and helps you gain the employment skills and experience needed to continue in the job.
Suspension of debt repayments
Assistance with self-employment
Social Security Act 2018, ss 101, 368 Employment and Work Readiness Assistance Programme, Sched, clause 8
If you’re on a benefit, the following assistance to help you start up your own business may be available:
- A Business Training and Advice Grant of up to $1,000 per year to cover the costs of business training and advice, including developing a business plan. You can apply for this more than once.
- Self-Employment Start-Up is a lump sum (or series of lump sums) of up to $10,000 over 12 months to cover essential business start-up costs, such as rent, buying or leasing equipment (such as furniture), buying stock and insurance costs.
- The Flexi-Wage for Self-Employment is a short term wage subsidy to help you with living costs while you start out working for yourself. It’s paid every four weeks up to a maximum of 52 weeks. It’s not a benefit paid under the Social Security Act, so the normal review and appeal processes that apply to benefits aren’t available to you. Instead, it’s a contract between you and the Ministry of Social Development, so you can take any disputes to the Disputes Tribunal (see: “The Disputes Tribunal”) or the District Court.