A beneficiaries advocate says the welfare sector is bracing itself for benefit cuts and further punitive measures against beneficiaries who don't meet work test requirements.
The comments by the Rotorua People's Union chair, Paul Blair, come as the Welfare Working Group prepares to make its final recommendations on welfare reform to the Government.
Mr Blair also describes as inane the recent comment by Prime Minister John Key that beneficiaries who can't survive on welfare are making poor lifestyle choices.
He urges the Government to help people who are struggling to make ends meet - for instance, by taking GST off food and creating work schemes.
It will cost the Government more in the long run, he says, if it doesn't help beneficiaries now.
The Welfare Working Group was established by the Cabinet to review the welfare system and identify how to reduce long-term welfare dependency.