State Financial Assistance
It is a hard financial struggle for most single parent families. Only relying on one income stream, which in many cases is a benefit, is really tough. Many families live from week to week and just do not have the means to survive, let alone be able to afford any luxuries such as a simple trip down to the shop with your children to buy ice creams.
Where to find financial assistance?
Work and Income New Zealand provide financial assistance to individuals and families in need. If you are the sole caregiver for your child, or have your child in your care for the majority of the time, you may be entitled to the Sole Parent Support benefit (formerly known as the Domestic Purposes benefit) or the Job Seeker Support benefit. This will provide you with enough financial assistance to provide the bare necessities for your family to get by on.
Whether your are working or applying for a benefit, you are also entitled to apply for an Accommodation Supplement, and in other cases such as high rent, or high expenses you may be entitled to Temporary Additional Support.
If your child has a disability or has a medical condition then you may be entitled to a Disability Allowance.
If your child/ren attend a childcare centre such as a pre-school, kindy, or Kohanga Reo, you may be entitiled to a Childcare Subsidy to help with costs. If your child attends an after-school programme or holiday programme while you are working you may be entitled to an Oscar Subsidy to help with costs.
For more information on the above benefits please see the Work and Income website: www.workandincome.govt.nz
For a full list of benefits that you may be entitled to please see http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/
Inland Revenue provide assistance with the Working for Families payment. This payment is provided to all families with children under the age of 18 as long as your income is under a certain threshold (up to $120,500 per year). You are also entitled to this payment if you are receiving a benefit from Work and Income.
If you are a working single parent and work 20 hours or more each week then you are entitled to an In-Work Tax Credit of $60 per week.
IRD will also collect child support from the non-custodial parent and pay it to the custodial parent if there is not an agreement in place, or the non-custodial parent refuses to pay. If you are receiving a benefit, then your child support gets paid to the Government to offset your base benefit, which is approximately $295 net. If the paying parent pays more than this amount, then the difference will be paid over to you.
For more information please see the IRD website: http://www.ird.govt.nz/yoursituation-ind/parents/
If you are still struggling by each week and have no money for food, then you may be able to receive a food package from a food bank. All local communities have a food bank, whether they be run by a community group, the local church, or the Salvation Army. You normally have to be referred by WINZ, Budgeting Services, or another organisation. Please contact Citizens Advice for information on your local food bank. You are also entitled to a maximum of four Food Grants per year from WINZ, but you will have to show that your weekly money has gone towards paying an unforeseen bill such as a broken window, or mechanical repairs on your car.
If you are finding that your financial situation is not improving, or you cannot see a way forward with your finances, contact your local Budgeting Services. They are a wealth of help and can sit down with you and prepare a budget with you to help you improve your finances.
There is a myth that you are better off on a benefit than you are working. In most cases you will be better off working, but there are always cases where you will be worse off, especially in cases where the Childcare Subsidy is not covering the majority of your childcare costs, or if you have children that get sick often. If you work, you are still entitled to receive your Working for Families payment, Accommodation Supplement, and if you are working more than 20 hours per week, then you are entitled to the In Work Tax Credit. These payments will all depend on the amount that you earn. You are also entitled up to $3.99 per hour for childcare costs.
If you are on a benefit and work less than 20 hours per week, you will keep receiving your benefit payments, but your benefit will start being deducted once you earn over $100 per week at 30 cents in every dollar up to $200, then it will be deducted at 70 cents in every dollar until your benefit cancels out, at this threshold I recommend watching how many hours you will be working unless you make it over 20 hours, as you also have to factor in secondary tax and where applicable student loan repayments, which may see you losing more than you earn.
The catch 22 comes when you are receiving temporary additional support, as when you start working, this benefit is cancelled out. So it may only be financially beneficial to work if you are earning over what you would get on Temporary Additional Support, or working over 20 hours. Please talk to your case manager or an advocate to make sure that you receive your full entitlements and do what is best for you in your situation.