Wairoa Star Column – 2 July 2018
This month marks one of the biggest changes to everyday family incomes in decades.
Many middle income families will be surprised to learn they now qualify for Working for Families (WFF) payments. Jacinda Ardern has said that she wants New Zealand to be the best place in the world to raise a family. Like her, I believe one of the most important jobs in the country is raising a family. We are now making that just a little bit easier.
Over the past ten years everyday working families have been increasingly squeezed as costs of raising a family keep rising, while incomes stay pretty flat. We are now changing the eligibility for the WFF tax credits so 26,000 more middle income families will be eligible.
We’re also extending paid parental leave to 22 weeks so that every baby will be able to spend more time bonding with their parents before they rush back to work. All families with babies born from today will also be eligible for $60 a week in a Best Start payment, once any parental leave finishes.
We’re also extending the idea of universal super, by introducing a universal winter energy payment for all senior citizens and beneficiaries. Cost should be no barrier to turning on the heater to keep warm.
We can afford this because of careful management of the economy. We are running surpluses and we have different priorities to the previous government. Tax cuts for people like me are not a priority for this government.
We’re investing in housing, in healthcare, in schools, and also in our regions. Wairoa is going to get its rail connections restored, and just last month the Minister of Employment announced special funding of $1.7 million for a pilot employment scheme in Hawke’s Bay.
The He Poutama Rangatahi scheme will help 500 young people get into a job, further education or training. It will ensure that youth aged between 15 and 24 get help with some of the basics they are lacking. This could be as simple as support to get a drivers licence, or getting them physically and mentally fit for work.
To see if you are eligible for the Families Package, check https://beehive.govt.nz/supporting-families