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One-off payments for immediate and essential needs


If you have a one-off essential need that you have no other way of paying for, Work and Income might cover the cost with a lump-sum payment or loan (“hardship assistance”). This is regardless of whether you are on benefit or not.

Depending on the type of cost and your circumstance, you might be able to get some of the following hardship assistance:

  • Recoverable Assistance – this is is paid to meet essential and immediate needs. This is both income and asset tested, and generally you’ll have to pay it back.
    • If you’re getting a main benefit you can apply for Advance Payment of Benefit.
    • If you’re not getting a main benefit, you can apply for Recoverable Assistance Payment. This covers the same costs, but the criteria is stricter if you’re not getting a main benefit.
  • Special Needs Grant – regardless of whether you are getting a main benefit or not, if you have a particular need, you can get a Special Needs Grant to cover the cost and generally you won’t have to pay the assistance back.

If you have ongoing essential costs that you are unable to cover with your income or benefit payments, you can get Temporary Additional Support (see: “Temporary Additional Support).

Note: If you make three requests for a one-off hardship assistance (Advances, Recoverable Assistance Payments, or Special Needs Grants) within 12 months, you may have to complete a budgeting exercise. This could include attending a budgeting course or seminar, getting advice from a budgeting service, or completing a budgeting work sheet on which you put down on paper all your outgoings and income. If you’re asked to complete a work sheet, you’ll need to fill this out in as much detail as you can. Try to keep track of all your fortnightly, monthly and yearly costs.

Social Security Act 2018, s 347(2) Social Security Regulations 2018, reg 203

Next Section | Recoverable Assistance

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Dealing with Work and Income

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

See Work and Income’s website for information on whether you qualify for a benefit and how to apply for them.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz
Phone:  0800 559 009

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP)

AAAP is a free nationwide advocacy service for people dealing with Work and Income.

Website: www.aaap.org.nz
Email: advocates@aaap.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aucklandactionagainstpoverty
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAAPNZ/

Helpful resources for beneficiaries: www.aaap.org.nz/resources

Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Services (BAIS)

BAIS provides free advocacy and support for beneficiaries and low-income families in Auckland’s North Shore, Rodney and Hibiscus Coast districts.

Website: www.bais.org.nz
Phone: 09 444 9543
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bais.northshoreandrodney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BAISnorthshoreandrodey   

Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (HV BEST)

The HV BEST provides information and support to beneficiaries in the Hutt Valley. 

Website: www.hvbest.co.nz
Email: hvbest@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 04 529 8108

Beneficiaries & Unwaged Workers Trust (BUWT)

BUWT provides information, advice and support to people on low incomes in Nelson.

Website: www.buwt.wordpress.com
Email: info@buwt.org.nz
Phone: 03 548 8171
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/282105670089970/?locale=pt_PT

Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)

The BAS provides information and support to beneficiaries in Christchurch.

Website: www.bas.org.nz
Email: bas.cprc@gmail.com
Phone: 0800 00 00 43
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BeneficiaryAdvisoryService

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

Zero Data

Zero Data is a new digital support that allows anyone with a mobile device, phone or tablet to access essential Government information for free. No data is used.

Website: www.zero.govt.nz

What do I need do I need for it to work?

  •  The device is on.
  •  The device is connected to Spark, Skinny One NZ, 2Degrees, Slingshot or Orcon.

You can access information from the following agencies:

  • Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora | Ministry of Social Development
  • Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education
  • Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
  • Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand
  • Kāinga Ora | Homes & Communities
  • Te Tāhū o te Ture | Ministry of Justice
  • Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara | Accident Compensation Corporation

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