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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.

NOTE: In September 2020, Statistics New Zealand released their national estimated resident population as at June 2020, rebased to the 2018 Census. Due to the rebase, previous estimates have also been revised, back to 2014. The rebase has resulted in higher population counts than previously estimated, and translated into a decrease in the population proportions MSD reports on. For example, 10.0 percent of the estimated working-age population received a main benefit as at the end of September 2019, before the rebase. After the rebase, this figure has been revised to 9.7 percent.

We have updated the population proportions starting from the September 2020 quarter report, but previously published reports have not been revised.

Latest Benefit Fact Sheets release

During the COVID-19 pandemic response situation, we are releasing a reduced amount of supporting material for the Benefit Fact Sheets. New weekly and monthly COVID-19 reporting and data are available.

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.

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


December 2020 21 January 2021
March 2021 15 April 2021
June 2021 15 July 2021
September 2021 21 October 2021