Renters forced to draw on KiwiSaver for payments

There's been a spike in people withdrawing funds from their KiwiSaver accounts because they can't pay the rent.

One budgeting centre says once clients have used up all their Government entitlements, people are raiding the future for day-to-day survival.

"Many of our families are in rental arrears, so the reality is either lose your home or apply to take some money out of KiwiSaver," says Darryl Evans, from Mangere Budgeting Services.

He says his agency gets eight clients a day asking for help with a KiwiSaver financial hardship application.

"I absolutely believe that KiwiSaver is about saving for your future, but how can you have a future when next week, or the week after, you're being threatened with losing your home?" he says. "For me, it makes sense."

Inland Revenue statistics show an increase in the number of financial hardship withdrawals, up 23 percent in a year, while the amount of funds taken out has jumped 30 percent. The numbers are small compared to the total size of all KiwiSaver funds, but the trend is worrying, especially in a strong economy.

"Given the economy we are in, if it does dip a little then I think there will be more demand in this area and maybe there are some systemic issues we need to look at," says David Boyle from the Commission for Financial Capability.

People are seeking help first from Work and Income, but Mr Evans claims some are being told to dig into KiwiSaver.

"Our clients are telling us that Work and Income are actually making that as a recommendation, but only given once they have exhausted what they are entitled to at Work and Income," he says.

But Work and Income tells Newshub that's not the case.

"KiwiSaver funds are not considered when assessing someone for a benefit," it says.

"[It's] not their policy to ask people to access KiwiSaver hardship payments."

It's also not easy to get money out of KiwiSaver. The law is clear - financial hardship means your home is under threat, there's a serious illness or disability or you need to pay for a funeral.

But more Kiwis now need to sacrifice the future for the needs of today.