Since coming into Government, we’ve worked hard to lift family incomes and make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. While long term challenges like inequality and child poverty will take time to fix, we’ve made good progress over the past five years.
Here are just some of the ways we’re supporting Kiwi families:
Five years ago, we introduced our Families Package - the biggest boost to household incomes in a decade for thousands of families. In the first year alone, around 330,000 families (more than half of all families with children in New Zealand!) were on average $55 per week better off as a result of the Families Package.
Through the package, we increased a range of payments and supports to help families, including boosting the Family Tax Credit and increasing paid parental leave to 26 weeks.
We also introduced the Best Start Payment and the Winter Energy Payment.
The Best Start Payment now provides $65 per week to any families supporting a newborn, giving parents of young children a little less to worry about.
The Winter Energy Payment helps 1.2 million New Zealanders stay warmer and healthier through the colder months, by providing up to $80 extra a month to help with power bills.
Since coming into Government we’ve continued to boost incomes to support families with the cost of raising a child.
We’ve lifted benefit incomes across the board more than any other previous Government, meaning couples with children on a benefit $243 better off per week than they were in 2017.
Since 2017, we’ve also continued to lift minimum wage, meaning a full time worker now earns an extra $218 a week.
To support families with the cost of living, we’ve introduced a range of measures to ease the pressures.
The latest changes include further extending our fuel tax cut until the end of February 2023, and our half price public transport which will run until the end of March 2023.
Public transport will remain permanently half price for Community Service Cardholders.
This is on top of other support we’ve provided, such as our $350 Cost of Living Payment, increases to Superannuation, student allowances and Working for Families, and our work to make grocery prices fairer. You can read more about this support here.
We’ve announced a significant expansion of our childcare assistance, which will support household budgets by cutting costs for working parents, and will help more children into early education and parents to take on jobs or return to work. Our changes, which come into effect on 1 April next year, will see 54% of all families with children be eligible for subsidised childcare assistance. Read more here.
We’ve made it cheaper for families to send the kids to school, so every child can get the education they deserve.
We know our tamariki learn better on a full stomach, and through our lunches in schools programme, around 220,000 children across the country receive free and healthy lunches each day. The programme has served more than 63 million lunches so far, and it’s saving parents money too!
We’ve also rolled out free period products in schools to reduce barriers to education for students and their whānau, so that our young people can focus on their education. Students at more than 2,000 primary, intermediate, kura and secondary schools now benefit from this initiative.
We’ve also funded the removal of school donations as well as NCEA fees, to help ease the pressure on families’ budgets.
We’ve made it easier and cheaper for families to get the healthcare they need.
We’ve introduced free doctors’ visits for children under 14, as well as cheaper doctors’ visits for more than half a million low income New Zealanders.
We’ve boosted the number of nurses in schools, so more young people can access healthcare close to home.
We've rolled out Mana Ake, our mental health and wellbeing programme, in schools across New Zealand, and introduced free mental health support through our Access and Choice programme, which has now delivered more than 500,000 free sessions.
We’ve also introduced legislation to extend ACC cover to maternal birthing injuries, to provide greater and more equitable support for new parents.
With all nine child poverty measures trending downwards, and 66,500 fewer children living in poverty, we know the actions we’re taking are working. There’s still more to do, but we’ll continue to support families across the motu, and ensure New Zealand is the best place in the world to grow up and to raise a child.
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