Better times are here
Thousands of struggling Northland families will be better off after this week’s roll-out of the coalition government’s flagship Families Package.
The package, which benefits young and old, working and unemployed, was announced in the Labour-NZ First Government’s first 100 days, and came into force on July 1.
The changes mean 384,000 New Zealand families will be an average of $75 a week better off once fully rolled out, and 64,000 children will be lifted out of poverty.
Working for Families payments have been expanded to support more New Zealand families, especially those left behind by the last government’s policies. Almost 40,000 more families will benefit when the plan is fully implemented.
Paid parental leave has increased to 22 weeks, and by 2020 will rise to 26 weeks. Paid parental leave payments will increase by 4.7 per cent, in line with increases to the national average wage. Being a new parent is both amazing and challenging, and we hope to support the parents of young infants in those vital early months.
In addition, each family with a baby born after July 1 will receive a weekly $60 Best Start payment to relieve some of the financial pressure that a new arrival can bring. These families will get this during the first year of a child’s life, and for some families that’ll continue for two more years.
However, it is important to recognise that a child is not always brought up by its parents. Thousands of grandparents and wha¯nau caregivers kindly and generously step in to raise someone else’s child when parenting circumstances are problematic. These family members who take on the responsibility, and the cost, of raising children who are not their own have been overlooked for too long. They are now entitled to a clothing allowance at the same rate as foster caregivers receive under the Oranga Tamariki legislation.
And just as winter temperatures really start to bite, our winter energy payment will reach superannuitants and beneficiaries. As part of our commitment that every New Zealander has a warm, dry roof over their head, we’re supporting vulnerable Kiwis with the cost of heating over the colder months.
There is no need to apply. Those eligible will receive the payment automatically. It will run for 13 weeks this year. In future it will start on May 1 and continue for 22 weeks. Single people without dependents will receive $20.46 a week, couples or those with dependents will receive $31.82 a week.
We can provide this level of support to New Zealanders because we have deliberately chosen different spending priorities than the last government. We’re delivering surpluses, managing the country’s books carefully, and putting people first.
Alongside the numerous job-creation projects announced for Northland this year through the Provincial Growth Fund, the Families Package will ensure a more prosperous future for the region’s people.
"As part of our commitment that every New Zealander has a warm, dry roof over their head, we’re supporting vulnerable Kiwis with the cost of heating over the colder months."