Rotorua Review: 190,000 children to be helped out of material hardship

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Many families were hit hard following the effects of an extended global financial crisis in 2008. To assist people who faced the full brunt of tough economic times we kept existing support for families in place, and continued our investment in the key areas of health, education, and law and order. We found efficiencies in these essential public services, instead of making cuts to the things kiwis rely on.

Recently in the Budget, the Government unveiled its plan to support low income families and tackle hardship among New Zealand’s poorest families. The plan will give $790 million worth of new support to 110,000 families around the country, which will help to lift 190,000 children out of material hardship. This added support, as well as a clear plan to grow the economy and create jobs, continues our record of maintaining and increasing help for low-income New Zealanders.

As a result of this package, benefit rates for families with children will increase by $25 a week after tax, the first increase outside inflation adjustments since 1972. This increase will give families on benefits more flexibility around their spending and make it easier to provide for their children.

A third of children in severe material hardship live in families with working parents on low incomes, which is why the Budget also increased payments to families on the Working for Families scheme. Low-income families in work will now receive $12.50 extra a week, and in some cases an extra $24.50 a week.

Childcare Assistance rates for low-income families will increase to $5 an hour for up to 50 hours of child care a week per child, lowering the cost of childcare for around 40,000 families. This increase will help sole parents to meet costs of childcare, owing to the increase in work responsibilities, which go up from 15 hours a week once their youngest child turns three, to 20 hours a week.

The best way for families to move out of poverty is still through full time work. Helping people to help themselves is an important part of our welfare system. This increased support for low-income families in the Budget acknowledges a caring society will always assist those less fortunate. It focuses important resources on children whilst encouraging a strong work ethic. If focuses on lifting children out of material hardship, and delivers this helping hand.