Labour helps families get ahead

As part of our economic plan we are investing in our people by supporting low income New Zealanders to improve their futures.

Labour is:

  • Reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance for higher skilled courses which will provide up to $4,515 per year to assist with extra costs
  • Increasing the amount of money people who are working part-time can earn while on a benefit
  • Continuing the welfare overhaul and implementing the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group
  • Revamping and expanding the Flexi-wage programme to support up to 40,000 more New Zealanders into work or to set up a business 

Labour will make sure low income families can get ahead by reinstating access to the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA) to assist with the costs of getting a degree level tertiary qualification – and ensuring those on benefits can keep more of what they earn in part time jobs, announced Labour’s social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.

“COVID-19 is going to impact incomes and employment significantly, which is why Labour is focused on improving New Zealanders’ access to training, creating a more highly skilled workforce and ensuring those on benefits can keep more of what they earn,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Investing in our people is a key part of Labour’s five point economic plan. We have supported over 1.7 million jobs through the Wage Subsidy and launched the apprenticeship support scheme, Apprenticeship Boost, to keep apprentices in jobs and support employers to invest in new ones, as we rebuild the economy from the impact of COVID-19.

“On top of that we have already announced that Labour will expand the Flexi-Wage programme. Labour will be investing an additional $300m to increase the average subsidy to $7,500 and enable up to 40,000 people to take advantage of the programme.

“The TIA is an investment in a family’s future. I was supported by the TIA for a period of time when I was a sole parent and studying. It made a big difference having that little bit of extra financial support when I was trying to get ahead and build a future for my family.

“Access to support for higher level courses under the TIA was taken away by National, despite the responsible, Minister Paula Bennett herself having benefited from this support. Labour is putting the ladder of support back in place after National pulled it up behind them,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“In 2018, under the existing settings, around 900 people accessed the TIA. Reinstating access to the TIA for degree level study is estimated to increase uptake to over 6,000 in the first year, increasing to 15,000 in later years.

“Research shows those who gain higher level qualifications are more likely to get a job, build a career and earn more. It is exactly the sort of investment we need to be making to support people back into sustainable work.

“TIA is targeted at sole parents, disabled people and their carers, and provides extra support towards the cost of study. This support is critical to ensuring that our people continue to develop the skills needed for New Zealand’s economic recovery and rebuild.

“Labour will also increase the amount people can earn while on a benefit by raising the abatement threshold. This will enable people to keep more of what they earn and increase the financial incentive to stay in or take up part-time work. This policy builds on the change we already implemented to lift abatement rates in line with minimum wage increases.

“We know that part-time work can be an important step toward full-time work, but the current thresholds can make it hard for people to enter the labour market or take on more part-time work. It also means low income families don’t get to keep extra income they earn that could help them get by.

“Up to 30,000 New Zealanders will be better off as a result of this policy and can keep more of what they earn. For some people this could be up to $70 more a week.

“Labour also remains committed to the overhaul of the welfare system. We will continue to make changes to create a welfare system that ensures people in need have an adequate income, are treated with respect and dignity, and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities.

“The changes we have already made in our first term mean that around 315,000 individuals and families are on average $55 a week better off, and 85,000 sole parents are on average $101 a week better off - not including the additional support from the Winter Energy Payment.

“Labour is committed to improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and reducing child poverty. Investing in our people is key to New Zealand’s economic recovery, and Labour’s plan will provide support for low income families so they can build better futures,” Carmel Sepuloni said.