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The Sole Parent Support benefit needs to better recognise the value of parenting – and to better support people to look after their families.

Because women’s income from benefits is significantly less than the living wage.

In 2013, one in six families with children in NZ were looked after by sole mothers, and sole parent families in NZ were overwhelmingly poor.

Bar graph showing the median income from family type from the 2013 Census: Couples with children: $92,000; One parent families: $33,100.

Nine out of ten Sole Parent Support benefit recipients were women in
2018.

“After rent there’s not much left. It’s hard to budget to put food on the table by the end of the week. Sometimes all that is left is noodles.”

“WINZ stresses me out – I feel like I’m being judged – it’s not like I want free money, I’m doing it because I have to, I’m doing it for my daughter and the more work I do the more dollars are taken off me.”

Something’s got to change, Ministry for Women, 2018

Since 2013 women’s income from benefits has only increased by 12%, compared to a 22% increase in income from wages and salaries.

Bar graph showing median weekly income for women by source (HLFS 2018): Wage and salary income 2018 $863;, Wage and salary income 2013 $710;, Government transfer income 2018 $341; Government transfer income 2013 $304.

Note: Government transfers are income from benefits, working for families tax credits, paid parental leave, student allowances, New Zealand (National) Superannuation, and veteran’s and war pensions.

The 2018 Sole Parent Benefit is significantly less than the living wage.

Bar graph showing the weekly income comparison for 2013: Living wage (40 hours) $822;, Minimum wage (40 hours) $660; Sole parent support 1 child (max) $617; Sole parent support 1 child (min) $382.

Notes:
• Sole parent support 1 child child (max) is calculated by the base rate + accommodation supplement (maximum)
• Sole parent support 1 child (min) is the base rate
• Note that sole parents can earn up to $100 per week from other sources before their benefit is reduced
• Working for families ($113 for the first child) entitlements would also apply unless a family was not eligible.

Only 38% of New Zealanders think we are doing well in terms of gender equality in our welfare system.

The Sole Parent Support benefit needs to provide a living wage.

Data sources and calculations

This work is based on/includes Stats NZ’s data which are licensed by Stats NZ for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

See also How can I use the data stories?

EI-WS-SPS-01

Title
Data sourced from: Stats NZ
Dataset name: Census 2013
url: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx#
Number of female sole parents: 2013 Census > Families and households > sex of sole parent, for one parent with dependent child(ren) families, 2001, 2006, 2013 (Selection criteria: Year = 2013, Sex of sole parent=female sole parent)
Number of families with children: 2013 Census > Families and households > Family type with type of couple, for families, 2013 (Selection criteria: Family type with type of couple= Total couple with children, one parent family)

Calculation: Number of families with children/Number of female sole parents

Graph
Data sourced from: Stats NZ
Dataset name: Census 2013
url: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx#
2013 Census > Income > Total family income (grouped) by family type, 2006 and 2013 (Selection criteria: Year = 2013, Family type = Couple with child(ren), One parent with child(ren), Grouped total family income= Median family income)

EI-WS-SPS-02
Data sourced from: MSD via data.govt.nz
Dataset name: Benefit fact sheets
url: https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/2018/national-level-benefit-data-dec-18.csv (Selection criteria: Benefit group =Sole Parent Support, Quarter = Sep_18)

Calculation: Sum of Gender = Female/Sum of Total

EI-WS-SPS-03
Data sourced from: Stats NZ
Dataset name: Household labour force survey 2018
url: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx#
Income > Income tables > Income by sex, region, ethnic group and income source (Selection criteria: Year= 2013, 2018, Sex=Female, Measure=Median weekly income, Ethnic group=Total ethnic groups).

Calculation: (Median weekly income for income source 2018 – Median weekly income for income source 2013)/ Median weekly income for income source 2013

EI-WS-SPS-04
The Living Wage: https://www.livingwage.org.nz/what_is_the_living_wage ($20.55 x 40 hours)
Minimum Wage: https://www.employment.govt.nz/hours-and-wages/pay/minimum-wage/ ($16.50 x 40 hours)
Sole parent support rates: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/benefit-rates/benefit-rates-april-2018.html#null (under Sole Parent Support for base rate and accommodation supplement)

EI-WS-SPS-05
Data sourced from: Research NZ for Gender Equal NZ led by the National Council of Women
Dataset name: Gender Attitudes Survey 2017
url: https://genderequal.nz/ga-survey/
Section 10:State of Gender Equality in New Zealand > In the welfare system (p.30)