Saturday, November 27

‘Fair enough’: the government will increase payments to families in distress

Nearly 350,000 families will receive an additional $ 20 a week starting in April next year, lifting an additional 6,000 children out of poverty, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern has announced a new support package to help families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She described the increases while delivering the keynote address at the Labor Party’s first national conference since her victory in the October 2020 general election.

It is a virtual event due to meeting restrictions due to the pandemic.

See the Prime Minister’s speech here:

Ardern said that if the government was to realize its goal of making Aotearoa the best place in the world to raise a child, it was critical that families receive a helping hand.

“Covid-19 has been tough on families and has contributed to the increase in the cost of living. Increasing support for low- and middle-income families to help cover the basics is the right thing to do,” Ardern said.

“Ending child poverty is a priority for this government. An estimated 6,000 more children will be lifted out of poverty as a result of these changes. That is in addition to the 33,000 children who will be lifted out of poverty thanks to increased benefit levels to early this year. “

The new increases that will take effect on April 1, 2022 are:

  • The family tax credit will increase by almost $ 15 per week for the oldest child and $ 13 per week for the subsequent children.
  • The best down payment will increase from $ 60 to $ 65 per week
  • The Orphan Benefit, Unassisted Child Benefit, and Foster Home Allowance will increase by $ 5 per week.

Ardern said the payments were intended for families with the lowest incomes.

“Those with household incomes less than $ 40,000 benefit the most from an average increase of $ 26 per week. But we know that all families are making it difficult, which is why everyone who receives a family tax credit or payment from the best start they will be better compared to what they receive now.

“The family tax credit was scheduled to have an inflation surge on April 1 of next year, but we have completed it so that struggling families get the extra help they need. The best start is also going to see inflation rise. April 1”.

Minister Carmelo Sepuloni

Carmelo Sepuloni
Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In a statement, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the increases announced today would help transform the welfare system.

“Every change we make brings us closer to our goal of a system that ensures that people have adequate income and standard of living, are treated and can live with dignity, and can participate meaningfully in their communities.”

Sepuloni said that significant progress had been made in implementing the recommendations of the Wellness Expert Advisory Group, which has included raising core benefit levels to historic levels.

“We are now making progress on our medium-term work plan. This plan includes a full review of the Working for Families system. This review is currently ongoing and more details will be released next year,” he said.

The changes announced today will also see the Family Tax Credit reduction rate increase from 25 percent to 27 percent. This change means that those with the lowest incomes will receive more and no one will be worse off compared to what they receive now.

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