The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has suggested Working for Families be scrapped and Kiwisaver incentives be curbed, saying the country cannot afford them.
The institute's principal economist, Shamubeel Eaqub, told a briefing on Tuesday that many policies implemented in better times are no longer affordable.
He singled out Kiwisaver, a voluntary, work-based savings initiative and Working for Families, which provides financial support for families, as inefficient and expensive.
Instead of Working for Families, tax changes aimed at helping low-income workers should be considered, Mr Eaqub says.
But Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway says removing Working for Families would only add to poverty and hardship in tough economic times.