Rotorua Weekender: July 1 brings more support for local families

Friday, July 10, 2015

The year is passing quickly, we are now half-way through 2015. Good progress has been made this year with a resolute focus on families.  1 July has seen a significant number of family friendly policies and programmes take effect, a good start to the second half of the year.

All children under 13 now have access to free GP visits and prescriptions. That’s more than 750,000 kids nationwide, 20,000 of whom live here in Rotorua. This removes financial barriers for parents to make sure their children get the best possible healthcare when they need it.

Families with a new child will also benefit from an increase in paid parental leave payments to $516.85 a week. This will allow new parents to spend more time with their children, and builds upon extensions to paid parental leave announced earlier in the year.

We’re leaving money in your pocket with the average ACC levy for petrol cars falling by around $130 a year. This is a significant saving for people when registering their vehicles. ACC is an important backstop for all New Zealanders. It's now economically sustainable, remains self funding and so it's right that levies are decreased.

These initiatives build on measures to help families that kicked in on 1 April. They included paid parental leave increasing by two weeks, to 16 weeks – it will increase by another two weeks from 1 April next year. The parental tax credit rose from $150 a week to $220 a week, and the entitlement will increase from 8 weeks to 10 weeks.

They also complement announcements made in Budget 2015, - a $25-a-week increase in benefit rates for families with children – the first rise in more than 40 years – and extra support for low-income families. This package includes greater work obligations for sole parents on a benefit and more childcare support for low-income families to help parents into work, education, or training. 

Strong families are the lifeblood of a strong community. These family friendly policies will continue to assist Rotorua people and their children.