Rotorua Daily Post: More support for families in Budget 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Last week’s Budget was Bill English’s seventh, and possibly best. It was all about families and helping break the poverty trap. The Budget is held every year and is a chance to open the country’s books to get an in-depth look to how the economy is performing. The Budget also sets out the spending priorities for the Government over the next year.

This year, as with years previous, there are a lot of announcements in the Budget that will be welcome support for families in Rotorua.

At a glance, the Budget delivers a number of measures which support families struggling to get ahead. $790 million has been delivered to help children living in some of New Zealand’s poorest families. Benefit rates for families with children will increase by $25 a week after tax. This is the first increase outside inflation adjustments since 1972. Working for Families, paid to low-income families, will also increase by $12.50 a week in most cases. The package balances greater work expectations for sole parents, more childcare support for low-income families to get into work, education or training, and more financial support for parents on a benefit.

The fastest way out of poverty, and the best way to support a family, is through work and our focus still remains on getting people off benefits and into jobs. Our strong economy is forecast to deliver another 150,000 new jobs over the next four years, on top of the 194,000 new jobs created since the start of 2011.
In addition to adding more jobs, people in jobs are forecasted to be paid more. Average wages have increased by 15 per cent over the past five years, and are forecast to continue rising faster than inflation. The average wage is expected to rise to $63,000 in the next four years.

The Government also continues its investment in education, with another $686.7 million committed to improve educational outcomes. We know that getting a world class education is the best start in life. Being well educated opens many doors later on in life, which is why the we’ve made education a priority over the last 7 years. This new money will build new schools and classrooms, provide better early childhood education, assist children with special education needs, and give operating grants to ensure schools run smoothly.

We are also spending more money on health than ever before. Budget 2015 delivers a further $1.7 billion investment and takes health spending next year to a record $15.9 billion. The funding will deliver more timely elective surgery, more hospices and palliative care, and extended bowel cancer screening. Since coming to Government, we have spent a huge amount on the Health system. We’ve delivered 1700 more doctors and 3700 more nurses, to ensure Kiwis get the best health care when they need it. We also made doctors’ visits and prescriptions free to children under 13, benefitting around 700,000 children.

The Budget delivers for low-income families. We are supporting them, to help with the financial stress of raising their children; we are putting more money into schools to make sure kids get the world class education that they deserve, we are investing more into the health system so that kiwis have access to healthcare when they need it, and we are continuing to build a stronger economy that produces more and higher paying jobs. This is a good Budget that continues National’s plan to help every family in New Zealand get ahead.