More hardship grants needed, job seeking numbers down
The number of people needing hardship grants to help pay for things like food and housing is continuing to climb. The latest figures from the Ministry of Social Development show that more than 570-thousand hardship grants were paid out in the three months to December, at a cost of more than 165-million dollars. That's up significantly on the same period in 2018, when just over 385-thousand grants were made at a cost of close to 109-million dollars. The time spent processing these grants has also meant Work and Income case managers haven't had as much time to work with people to get them into jobs. Our social issues reporter Sarah Robson spoke to the Ministry's deputy chief executive Viv Rickard about how they juggle the competing demands.