The Tofilaus.

Hardship Assistance - March 2019 quarter

Hardship assistance is for people with insufficient income and assets, and who have immediate and specific needs that cannot be met by their own resources. Hardship assistance includes Special Needs Grant (SNG), Advance Payment (ADV) and Recoverable Assistance Payment (RAP).

Five-year trend

The number of grants for hardship assistance has been increasing over the last five years. There were 472,217 grants provided in the March 2019 quarter, more than double the number of grants granted in the March 2014 quarter (216,960).

The number of Special Needs Grants (SNGs) continues to be a key driver for the increased number, accounting for 57.4 percent of the total number of hardship grants in the March 2019 quarter. A Special Needs Grant is an additional income support to address immediate needs of families and individuals. A person does not have to be receiving a benefit to be eligible for an SNG.

Figure 1: Quarterly hardship assistance grants, March 2014 to March 2019

For the March 2019 quarter, the total hardship assistance paid amounted to $128.5 million, of which 51.7 percent of the total amount was granted for Advance Payments. People receiving a main benefit who need immediate assistance have access to an advance of their net benefit entitlement/s.

Figure 2: Amount of quarterly hardship assistance payments, March 2014 to March 2019

Over the last five years, food has remained the main reason for needing hardship assistance. In the March 2019 quarter, there were 212,871 grants for food were provided, more than double the number in March 2014 (91,301).

Figure 3: Selected quarterly hardship assistance reasons, March 2014 to March 2019

In terms of amount paid, grants for Emergency Housing accounted for the highest payments granted ($23,079,536) in the March 2019 quarter. This was closely followed by payments for food grants ($21,728,864) and for accommodation related grants ($20,387,855).

Figure 3: Selected quarterly hardship assistance reasons, March 2014 to March 2019

Civil Defence Payment

In response to civil defence emergency or adverse event, Civil Defence Payments are made available for affected people to meet their immediate needs.

As at the end of the March 2019 quarter, there were 1,538 grants made, that amounted to $428,971 granted for Civil Defence payments. The majority (99 percent) of the total number and amount of grants were made to support clients affected by the Nelson-Tasman Fires in February, and the Christchurch Tragedy in March 2019.

Annual comparison

March 2018 quarter

March 2019 quarter

Annual change

Total Special Needs Grants (SNG)




45.5 percent increase




52.9 percent increase

Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants (EH SNG)




181.3 percent increase




251.0 percent increase

Total Advances (ADV)




52.9 percent increase




46.8 percent increase

Total Recoverable Assistance Payments (RAP)




33.0 percent increase




30.4 percent increase

Civil Defence Payment




Refer to Note 3




Refer to Note 3

Note 1: Special Needs Grants and Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants are a count of grants, not a count of clients. A client may have more than one grant in the period.

Note 2: The Emergency Housing Special Needs Grant was implemented from 1 July 2016 and was able to be reported separately from the December 2016 quarter.

Note 3: Annual change rate is not calculated for Civil Defence Payment because of the significant difference in numbers.