Media release 7th May 2018

BAS’ Vision for Beneficiaries (part 3): Grant Levels

This is our third segment in our series of suggestions for the future based on our vast experience helping people on benefits.  This suggestion is about grant levels and that the guideline maximums, especially food grants, should be raised to more realistic levels and looked at yearly.  Too many people are going hungry NOW and this has to be addressed in a short- and a long-term way.  We are pleased the Government is intending an overhaul of the Welfare system, however these specific changes need to be made with urgency, not within the next two to three years!

The guideline limits for food grants within a 6 month period are: single person (no kids) $200.00; couple (no kids) $300.00; parent/s with 1 or 2 dependent children $450.00;  and couple, or sole parent with 3 or more kids $550.00.  The University of Otago Food Cost Survey would estimate an average family of 4 might need to spend $268/week for basic food costs (& non-food items).  So a $450 grant wouldn’t even cover two weeks of this.  Like Tamati, who is currently off work due to an injury and lives with his two teenage boys.  He has some high ongoing costs from when he worked, including his rent and car & other debt repayments.  He really struggles to buy enough food to feed his growing boys who always seem to be hungry.  He is given a minimal amount each time he asks for a food grant and never seems able to get ahead.

Rebecca Occleston is the Speaker for Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)

BAS is a Christchurch based Community Group who help people on benefits and low incomes with their problems with Work and Income, providing FREE advice, information, support and advocacy.  Contact BAS by phone: (03) 379 8787 or 377 3560, email: facebook: @BeneficiaryAdvisoryService ; website: ; Our Office is in Christchurch Community House, 301 Tuam St, Chch Central 8011