Introduction to The Statistical Report

Conventions in this report

Terms and definitions

Working age

‘Working-age clients’ are aged 18–64. This definition reflects the minimum age of eligibility for most main benefits and the age of qualification for New Zealand Superannuation.

Clients whose ages are not specified are included with ‘other’ clients (ie those who are not identified as of working age).

Naming of assistance

‘Main benefits’ refers to the group of benefits known as ‘income-tested benefits’ before 2007.

Throughout this report, financial assistance is referred to:

Proportions of population receiving assistance

All proportions of the population receiving assistance are estimated as:

Data sources

The report refers to SWIFTT as a data source. SWIFTT is a database supporting Work and Income’s delivery of services to clients.

SWIFTT contains information about recipients of financial assistance and the assistance they receive. It holds comprehensive records of information entered from 1996 onward.

MSD also retains some information for earlier years concerning financial services.

Civil unions

Clients in a civil union are treated in the same way as clients who are married or living as married. In this report, ‘married clients’ includes clients in a civil union.

Treatment of age-related payments to older people

New Zealand Superannuation is not a pension. At times this report refers to New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension together as ‘pensions’. This is done to help the flow of the text.

Integrity Services

These comprise the services which ensure the integrity of the benefit system. They include services to identify and investigate benefit fraud and abuse, and services to manage the debts MSD’s clients owe to the Crown. Clients may owe money to the Crown because they received recoverable hardship assistance, or because of benefit overpayment or benefit fraud.

Financial assistance

This refers to main benefits, Veteran’s Pension and New Zealand Superannuation. It excludes supplementary benefits and hardship assistance, which are also available to working families.

Dependent children

These are children aged under 18 (or aged 18 if in study or training) who are dependent on the client. For most main benefits, the level of work test applied in the period covered by the report reflected at least in part the age of the youngest child dependent on the client.

Official unemployment

The officially unemployed are people aged 15 or over who:

To have actively sought work, these people must have done more than check newspaper advertisements.

The number of officially unemployed is measured by the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). The HLFS is conducted quarterly by Statistics New Zealand.

The officially unemployed are not necessarily receiving an Unemployment Benefit

Table DU.1 outlines key differences between the officially unemployed and clients receiving an Unemployment Benefit.

table DU.1: Key differences between the officially unemployed and recipients of an
Unemployment Benefit

Characteristic Officially unemployed Unemployment Benefit recipients
Age 15 years or over 18–64 years (modest exceptions for some parents aged 16–17)
Residency ‘Normally resident’ Has continuously lived in New Zealand for two years since becoming a citizen or permanent resident
Full-time or part-time work sought Seeking to work one hour or more a week Seeking full-time employment
Current work status Less than one hour a week for pay or profit in the previous fortnight, and have had no unpaid work in a relative’s business May work part-time subject to relevant income tests
Income Not relevant Ineligible if income is in excess of the cut-off for Unemployment Benefit
Partner’s employment status Not relevant Makes some ineligible through excess income
In tertiary study Can count as unemployed Generally ineligible for Unemployment Benefit, although other assistance may be available
Efforts to find work Must have actively sought work (done more than checking newspaper advertisements) within the previous four weeks Complies with work test and any other administrative requirements of Work and Income
Availability for work Must be available for work within the next four weeks May be unavailable for work for short periods without losing eligibility
Wanting income assistance from Work and Income Not relevant Must want and apply for an Unemployment Benefit, as well as meet eligibility criteria

Aggregations usedTop

Data provided

Trends in the use of MSD assistance are shown as the number receiving assistance at the end of June each year. This allows the actual number receiving assistance to be shown as well as broad trends.

This report does not show the number receiving assistance at other times of the year. The number receiving assistance at the end of June may exclude a large number of people who:

Clients included in statistics

The report focuses on the people MSD works with directly. The statistics do not necessarily include others in their households who are receiving support less directly.

Data on the use of:

includes non-qualified spouses receiving New Zealand Superannuation or a pension
excludes any other dependants of the clients
– recipients of a main benefit who are being case-managed towards employment but who have not yet received specific work services
– vacation workers
– people already working full-time, but who are seeking help to change jobs or to keep the jobs they have and who have not yet received specific work services.

Information on expenditure on services

For official expenditure information, see MSD’s Annual Report for the year ended June 2012. This is available on MSD’s website at

Note that expenditure information included in The Statistical Report until 2010 differed from official expenditure. For more information, see The Statistical Report for the year ending June 2010.