Best start for newborns and families

Wairoa Star – Stuart Nash

There is a lot of talk about babies at the moment – I wonder why!

Every year around 2,100 babies are born in the Hawke’s Bay region. Around 140 of them are born in Wairoa District, and more than 700 in Napier City. A newborn brings so much joy and hope into the lives of their parents and wider families. As a proud father of four I marvel every day at what they are achieving.

But I know many families do it tough, and they sometimes worry about how to make the best life for their kids. We have a new policy coming into place from 1 July which will provide just that little bit of extra help and reassurance for families.

From 1 July the Best Start payment takes effect. The Best Start payment is $60 per week, or $3120 over the course of a year. It is available for every newborn baby. It’s part of our wider Families Package, a sort of mini budget we introduced in our first 100 days of taking office late last year.

Best Start will be paid until your child’s first birthday. If your household earns less than $79,000 per year you will keep receiving the payment till your child turns three. This means low and middle income families get extra support, because we are focused on doing what we can to lift children out of poverty.

Households earning above $79,000 may keep receiving payments, at a reduced amount, up to an income threshold of around $94,000.

We are making good on our promise to put child poverty at the heart of our social policies. We’ve been able to afford help for struggling families by repealing tax cuts that were planned for wealthier households. We know we have a strong economy, and that people are working hard to help their families get by. Best Start is our way of sharing the benefits of a strong economy with those families who need it most.

I’ll share more information about the rest of the 1 July Families Package in later columns.

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