Making childcare more affordable

We know childcare is one of the biggest costs for working families. That’s why, as part of our work to support New Zealanders with the cost of living, we’re making childcare more affordable for low and middle income families.

We’ve just announced that we’re significantly expanding childcare assistance, cutting costs for working parents and supporting more children into early education. On top of this, we’re further boosting Working for Families and the Best Start payment, providing more support to help ease the pressure.

Here are the details:

Our Government is making childcare and after school care more affordable for many low and middle income families, through changes to childcare assistance subsides.

These changes will kick in from 1 April next year, and will significantly expand the Childcare Subsidy for preschoolers, as well as the OSCAR Subsidy for school-aged children.

The exact amount families will save on childcare costs will depend on the number of hours they work, the wages they are on, the number of hours of childcare per day, and the cost of their early childcare education centre. But we know this will make a huge difference for thousands of families across New Zealand.

For example, a family with two parents both working 40 hours per week on $26 per hour with two children under five who will not have been eligible for childcare assistance, now will be eligible for $252 per week. You can find more examples here.

Childcare assistance has been neglected for more than a decade, since income thresholds were frozen by National in 2010.

At a time when families are feeling the cost-of-living spike, we’re investing in what matters most, by making sure childcare is within reach for parents and they have more support to cover other costs.

By reducing financial barriers and better supporting parents who want to enter work or further training, we’re also helping fill labour shortages – so it’s good news for Kiwi families and our economy.

These next steps build on the work that our Government has already done since 2017 to ease cost of living pressures on families. Here are just a few examples:

Free, healthy lunches in schools

Our lunches in school programme is providing free and healthy school lunches to thousands of children across the country.

Around 63 million healthy lunches have been served so far and they now reach 220,000 students across the country. It’s also saving families with two children at school, for example, around $62 a week and more than $2,000 a year.

Giving babies the best start in life

We’ve made sure that parents of young children have a little less to worry about.

Our Government extended paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks, giving working parents more time with their newborn. We also introduced the Best Start payment – which we’ve just increased to $69 a week – to help with the costs of a new baby.

Making going to school cheaper

We’ve taken to make it cheaper for families to send the kids to school, so every child can get the education that they deserve.

In addition to introducing free, healthy lunches in schools across the country, we’ve funded the removal of school donations as well as NCEA fees, to help families make ends meet.

We’ve also rolled out free period products in schools, to reduce barriers to education. The latest figures show that students at more than 2,000 primary, intermediate, kura and secondary schools now benefit from this initiative.

On top of this, we’re helping to ease the pressure on Kiwi families with our cost of living package, which includes half price public transport, the fuel tax cut and more. You can find out more here

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