Business people reading the Social Report.

Benefit Fact Sheets

The Benefit Fact Sheets provide a high-level view of trends in benefit receipt.

They also provide breakdowns of overall numbers, where appropriate, by:

  • benefit sub-categories
  • gender
  • broad age groups
  • ethnicity
  • continuous duration on any benefit
  • presence of dependent children
  • broad categories of incapacity.

It should be noted that trends in numbers receiving benefits are more reliably shown by comparisons between the same quarter 12 months apart, rather than by comparisons across consecutive quarters. This is due to seasonal changes which affect benefit numbers.

How we report ethnicity

From December 2021, we have introduced a new reporting approach called ‘total response’. Making this change means we recognise all aspects of someone’s ethnicity and allows us to represent the full diversity of communities, whānau, and people in Aotearoa. This reflects our clients more accurately, aligns our approach with Statistics NZ’s reporting, and reflects best practice.

Ethnicity is about people’s identity and sense of belonging. Ethnicity measures cultural affiliation, rather than race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship. Ethnicity is self-perceived and people can identify with more than one ethnic group. Previously, we reported ethnicity using an approach called ‘prioritised ethnicity’. Prioritised ethnicity meant that we allocated people to a single ethnic group in an order of priority. The priority previously used by MSD was Māori, Pacific Peoples, Other, and NZ European.

Protecting our clients information - confidentiality

All information in the Benefit Fact Sheets and supporting material has been randomly rounded to base 3. The information has been rounded independently resulting in small differences in numbers between products.

From 12 February 2021, MSD started applying a range of new confidentiality procedures to public data releases. These procedures will continue to protect client information, while making more data available. To find out how we have changed the way we work with client information visit:


Latest Benefit Fact Sheets release

As part of MSD's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional weekly and monthly COVID-19 reporting were produced for 2020, while a reduced amount of supporting information was provided with the Benefit Fact Sheets.

During 2021, MSD has restarted publication of supporting information released along with the Benefit Fact Sheets. This includes machine-readable CSV files.

Benefit Fact Sheets A4 Snapshot

The following A4 snapshot contains a summary of benefit, supplementary and hardship trends over the last five years.

Excel tables

The following Excel tables provide a view of benefit use at a national level, by Work and Income regions, by Regional Councils, by Auckland Boards, by Territorial Authority areas and by Service Centres.


Technical information

The following document contains technical and other explanatory information about the Benefit Fact Sheets.


Machine-readable CSV files

The machine-readable CSV files for the December 2021 quarter will be published in February 2022.


Impact of 2013 Welfare Reform on benefit trends

On 15 July 2013, the Welfare Reform changes came into place. Three new benefits replaced most of the previous benefits: Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment.

New benefit from 15 July 2013

Replaces pre-15 July 2013 benefit

Jobseeker Support
  • Unemployment Benefit Related (UB/UBH)
  • Unemployment Benefit Training (UBT/ UHT)
  • Sickness Benefit Related (SB/SBH)
  • Domestic Purposes Benefit-Sole Parent / Woman Alone / Widow’s Benefit (DPB-SP/WA/WB) – for clients with children 14 years and over.
Sole Parent Support
  • Domestic Purposes Benefit-Sole Parent (DPB-SP) – for clients with children aged up to 13 years
  • Widow’s Benefit (WB) – for clients with no children, or children aged up to 13 years.
Supported Living Payment
  • Invalid’s Benefit (IB)
  • Domestic Purposes Benefit-Care of Sick and Infirm (DPB-CSI).

For benefit counts prior to 15 July 2013, we report estimates of the number of clients receiving the new benefit categories, based on previous benefits received and other characteristics recorded for the client. Numbers from 15 July 2013 are actual numbers based on benefit and work obligations post the Welfare Reform changes. As a result of these new categories, data is not comparable to Benefit Fact Sheets before July 2013. The new rules have been applied to create quarterly and annual changes to compare the benefit sub-categories across time.


Release timetable

The Benefit Fact Sheets will be released on the following dates:

Quarter end

Published

March 2022 21 April 2022
June 2022 21 July 2022
September 2022 20 October 2022
December 2022 19 January 2023