Tackling child poverty and removing barriers to people working part time to enhance their prospects of moving into a fulltime job are highlights of Labour’s Social Development policy.
Releasing the policy today, spokesperson Sue Moroney said while part-time work was a recognised way to move into full employment, many people were trapped into a cycle of poverty and unemployment by the present system.
“A Labour Government will remove the disincentives to working part-time by lifting the current threshold of $80 - $100 before benefit reductions kick in, to a flat $150 a week, meaning jobseekers will be far better placed to transition into fulltime work.
“Under a Labour-led government, Social Development will be about increasing opportunity and decreasing inequality.
“We will investigate the best ways to address growing inequality and create a more equal society through an Inequality Summit, drawing on local and international expertise, which will provide direction and inform policy for the incoming Government.
“That feeds into our commitment of ensuring every Kiwi child gets the best start in life and that their wellbeing is at the heart of policy.
“Overseeing that will be a Minister – and a Ministry - for Children, with responsibility for ensuring other Government departments are fulfilling that role.
“We will introduce legislation to drive that cross-agency work, and establish measurements and targets to tackle child poverty and its effects across health, housing, education and social development.
“Our Best Start policy includes a $60 a week payment to families not receiving paid parental leave and earning under $150,000. This payment will continue until the child's third birthday for low income families. Paid parental leave will be extended to 26 weeks and an extra five hours of free early education will be available for children from the age of three.
“Ensuring everyone under 20 is in work, education or training is another priority for Labour. Our Kick Start Apprenticeship scheme pays employers the equivalent of the dole for a year to provide a young person with a fulltime, permanent job.
“We want to see all New Zealanders reach their potential. These policies, along with a rise in the minimum wage, the creation of higher paid jobs and better access to health care, will go a long way to achieving that,” Sue Moroney said.