Budget 2021: Newshub-Reid Research poll shows Kiwis are on board with expected benefit increase

Newshub understands benefits are likely to be given a boost in Thursday's Budget and the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows the country is on board too. 

It would make such a huge difference to beneficiaries who are struggling just to make ends meet - people like Tui Makoare, a qualified social worker, whose three-decade career hit pause when he lost his job during COVID-19. 

"It is exhausting and at times you're thinking, is it all worth it?" Makoare told Newshub. "Obviously I prefer to be working. I've been on Jobseekers for eight months. It is a struggle."

It's a struggle to even afford to find work.

"More money could put petrol in my car to go and look for work," says Makoare.

Because of Catch-22s like this, two years ago the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommended that benefits be lifted. For example a single person on the Jobseeker benefit - currently on $258 a week after tax - would get an extra $57 - $315 a week.

But to put that into context of living costs, the national median rent is $495.

Wajd El-matary knows first-hand that maths simply doesn't add up. 

"My rent was, especially in Wellington, significantly higher than the amount I was getting, so I had to acquire assistance from my family, which I was so lucky to have, but some people don't have," she told Newshub. 

She needed the benefit for a month - a month of feeling alienated and disheartened.

"There was a lot of struggle with grocery bills; I put off going to the doctor as well."

And that's despite having severe asthma.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says lifting incomes is a focus of the Government. 

"Over the term of Government we've focused on making sure we do lift the incomes of low income New Zealanders," he told Newshub. 

It appears the country wants the Finance Minister to do more. In the latest pre-Budget Newshub-Reid Research poll we asked: Should the Government follow the recommendation to raise the unemployment benefit? 

A majority - 54.8 percent - said yes, far more than those who opposed - 34.5 percent. The rest weren't sure. 

Robertson was tight-lipped on whether jobseekers will get a boost in the Budget on Thursday. 

"I cannot comment on what is in or not in the Budget. That all comes tomorrow."

But Newshub understands a benefit bump is likely when the Budget is revealed. It may not be the full recommended increase in one fell swoop - that's the commitment for the entire term - but there will be something.