The Social Security (Winter Energy Payment) Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.
The bill has the objective of ensuring that social security legislation authorises two aspects of winter energy payments (under the Social Security Act 2018 ), for the winter period in and after the 2019 calendar year; and purported winter energy payments, under the former Social Security Act 1964, for the winter period for the 2018 calendar year.
The Winter Energy Payment is available to help with the cost of heating homes during the winter. The payment is available automatically to all beneficiaries and superannuitants.
Clause 4 amends section 72 which contains general eligibility requirements. A person who is receiving long-term residential care in a hospital or rest home, or residential care services is eligible for the payment, unless the person is specified as disentitled to the payment.
Clause 5 amends section 220, which contains a special absence rule. Old section 220 makes the energy payment not payable to a beneficiary for the first 28 days of any 1 or more absences of the beneficiary from New Zealand if each absence is longer than four weeks during the winter period. New section 220(2) makes the energy payment payable for up to a maximum of 28 days of any 1 or more absences from New Zealand during the winter.
Part 1 (Winter energy payment for winter periods in and after 2019 calendar year) (which amends section 72: Winter energy payment: requirements) comes into force on 1 May 2019 and the rest of the Act on the day after the Royal assent.