Social Development & Employment

Our economic recovery plan will keep people working, ease the pressure on Kiwi families, and rebuild New Zealand stronger than ever. We remain committed to modernising our welfare system, so all New Zealanders can live with dignity and contribute meaningfully to their communities.

Labour's 2020 campaign policies

  • We will reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance for degree level study, to provide additional support to sole parents, disabled people and their carers towards the cost of study.
  • We will increase the amount people can earn while on the benefit by raising the abatement threshold.

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to keep people working, ease the pressure of Kiwi families, and rebuild New Zealand back stronger than ever. That’s why this year we:

  • Moved quickly to support workers through the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which has now supported around 1.7 million jobs. We’ve extended the subsidy to provide targeted support for workers in the hardest hit industries like tourism
  • Launched a new payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19, which provides $490 a week for people who had been working full-time, and $250 a week for people who were working part-time
  • Helped more than 9,000 people back into work in March and April through the Ministry of Social Development’s employment support
  • Increased support for Kiwi families and older New Zealanders, by indexing main benefits to wage growth, doubling the Winter Energy Payment for over a million people, and permanently lifting benefits by $25 a week.

Labour will continue overhauling our welfare system with a focus on supporting people into sustainable work, income adequacy so families that depend on the benefit are not living in poverty, and a culture change within government departments to ensure all people are treated with respect.

Labour will continue creating thousands of local jobs in communities across New Zealand by investing in apprenticeships and trades training and boosting our Mana in Mahi, which supports and job opportunities for those most at risk in the labour market.

Labour’s achievements to date

During the COVID crisis

We supported around 1.7 million people to stay in work through the Wage Subsidy Scheme, we launched a new payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due to COVID, and we increased income support for Kiwi families and older New Zealanders. We increased main benefits by $25 a week to protect our most vulnerable and those who lose their jobs, on top of the $10 a week wage indexation increase.

Before the COVID crisis

We started rolling out the Families Package, which will make 384,000 families with children better off by an average of $75 per week when fully rolled out. That includes:

  • The Winter Energy Payment, which helps over a million New Zealanders heat their homes in winter each year
  • Changes to Working for Families and the Family Tax Credit to boost incomes for working families, and
  • The Best Start payment, which makes 65,000 families with babies $60 a week better off.

Combined, these policies mean a sole parent of a baby, renting in Nelson, is better off by $134 a week in summer, and $197 a week in winter.

We also scrapped a sanction that cuts a mother’s benefit if she doesn’t name the father, and indexed main benefits to wage growth. Plus we’re steadily increasing the minimum wage towards $20 an hour by 2021, and we extended paid parental leave to 26 weeks and increased payments by $20 a week.

Since we came into Government, we’ve also:

  • Made it cheaper or free for nearly 600,000 New Zealanders to visit the doctor
  • Increased school funding so parents don’t have to pay for school donations or NCEA
  • Expanded the Lunches in Schools programme to children with the highest disadvantage