April brings more support for families

Column Articles
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

With Easter over for another year, many New Zealanders have something else to look forward to. Extra support for families, which has been made possible by the Government’s careful economic management, kicks in on April 1. 

For the first time in 43 years, benefit rates are rising beyond inflation for families with children. They will receive an extra $25 a week from 1 April.

However it is important we continue to make returning to work a priority. That’s why childcare assistance is increasing so sole parents can go back to work when their youngest child turns three instead of five.

Parents in work will be better supported by an increase in Working for Families payments of $24.50 for very low income families, and up to $12.50 a week for low income families.

Together the increases to benefits and Working for Families tax credits will help more than half a million children, including 190,000 children in benefit-dependent homes.

Paid parental leave increases for the second time from 1 April. This means new parents will get 18 weeks paid parental leave to spend with their newest family member.

Paid parental leave is also being extended to cover more work circumstances, and those who have responsibility for the care of a child under six but may not be the biological or adoptive parents of that child. Parents of premature babies will now be entitled to extra weeks of parental leave payments.

The minimum wage is increasing again, as it has done every year National has been in office, from $14.75 an hour to $15.25. We’re careful to do this in a way that means people on the lowest incomes are paid more but don’t lose their jobs. Laws banning zero hour contracts will also come into force.

April also brings $232 million of ACC levy cuts to work levies paid by employers and self-employed people and the earners’ levy that everyone in the paid workforce pays. Later in July there will be reductions to motor vehicle levies, saving motorists around $65 on average.

Reflecting our commitment to keep superannuation and veteran’s pensions at 66 per cent of the average wage, these entitlements will be increasing too. Superannuation has increased by more than 34 per cent since 2008 – double the rate of inflation.

These April changes show our growing economy is translating into real benefits for New Zealanders.

ENDS