31 Mar 2020

WINZ benefits to be paid as usual

3:27 pm on 31 March 2020

The Ministry of Social Development's contact centres are dealing with huge numbers of calls, but it is assuring people benefits will continue to be paid as usual.

Work and Income offices

Work and Income offices Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Work and Income (WINZ) offices are closed, so all of its services are being provided online or over the phone.

Over four days last week, it responded to more than 75,000 calls, carried out more than 49,000 phone appointments and completed more than 56,000 tasks, such as applications for hardship assistance, student allowances and changes in circumstances.

People are being encouraged to check the WINZ website for information before they call.

They can also apply for assistance online via MyMSD.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

People who don't have internet access should call, but there may be long wait times and they are being asked to be patient.

A number of changes have also been made to help ease some of the demand on services.

They include:

  • Clearing any 52-week reapplications for people on jobseeker or sole parent support
  • Extending the period that temporary additional support is granted for
  • Deferring the need to provide subsequent medical certificates for people already getting jobseeker support, sole parent support, supported living payment and child disability allowance
  • Deferring any disability allowance reviews
  • Delaying annual reviews (including all annual reviews of income, confirming your circumstances and annual circumstances letters, social housing reviews, and life certificates)
  • Clearing any special benefit expiries or reviews
  • Deferring any new obligations failures.

From tomorrow, base benefit levels will increase by $25 a week, on top of a three percent increase in line with changes in last year's but to index benefits to wage growth.

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