Jacinda Ardern: How we're supporting Kiwis and lifting incomes

I was a child when the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s left many New Zealanders behind.

It was a time of global uncertainty too, but the Government did not act to protect Kiwis, in fact the inequality that grew out of that period still lingers today.

We are determined not to repeat those mistakes. We supported New Zealanders through COVID, and we will support them through the recovery too, a recovery that is already well under way.

Unemployment at 3.2 percent is the lowest since records began, as more people are in work than even before COVID. Strong economic growth is being driven by an export and construction boom, New Zealand’s debt is well below the countries we compare ourselves to, and international economic commentators have rated our books among the best in the world.  

There’s no doubt however that we’re in a tough period. The whole world is dealing with high inflation as a result of COVID, supply chain issues, and the war in Ukraine.

There is no silver bullet that will fix this situation but there are important things we are doing to help Kiwis through it.

Today we roll out a cost of living package that delivers income increases for over 1.4 million New Zealanders.

We increase support measures each year on April 1, but this year we’ve responded to the current situation by further topping up the increases to the Family Tax Credit, benefit rates, and childcare support income thresholds.

From today:

  • A lift in the Family Tax Credit sees 346,000 families better off by an average of $20 a week.
  • 855,000 superannuitants will see their payments go up $52 a fortnight for a single person and $80 for a couple.
  • Over 100,000 beneficiaries with children will be better off by $60 a week.
  • And from 1 May a million New Zealanders will start receiving the Winter Energy Payment putting an extra $700 in total in the pockets of families over the colder months.

These are the measures that are most effective in supporting our low and middle income earners with the cost of living.

But we know everyone is feeling the impact of things like the war in Ukraine, through increases at the pump.

That’s why we moved quickly to cut fuel excise by 25c a litre and introduced half price public transport for three months.

We know it won’t solve everything, but if we can reduce the bill to fill up your car, then right now we should do that, and we are.

Measures like this sit alongside a range of programmes that ease the pressure on families like free lunches in schools and free doctors’ visits for children till the age of 14.

Being responsive and taking action at scale is what a Government can do to help. Whether that’s getting through the health impacts of a pandemic, or recovering from the economic toll. Both require listening, responding quickly, and a focus on people and families.

All of that is put at risk by the National Party’s proposal to give tax cuts to those who earn over $180,000.

Instead, we’ll maintain a focus on addressing the rising cost of fuel for everyone, food costs for everyone, and lifting skills and income – especially for those who need it the most.

This time of global shock will pass eventually. But the investments we make to lift the incomes of most New Zealanders will last well into the future.

See more on our 1 April package here

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