Concerns raised prior to Budget 2015 announcement today

The National Government is set to announce its seventh budget today and a number of NGOs and organisations dealing with child poverty are concerned there will be no support offered to improve those services this year.

Yesterday a petition including 15,000 signatures was presented to Parliament, urging the government to take action on poverty.

The Government hasn't signalled any major funding boosts for child poverty thus far but many are hopeful there will be some focus placed on services they believe are integral to vulnerable children in New Zealand.

The National government has also failed to meet it's surplus but Finance Minister Bill English says the New Zealand economy is continuing to perform well.

English says, Budget 2015 will set out the next steps in the National-led Government’s economic programme.

“The Government’s focus remains front and centre on ensuring the economy continues to perform well. That’s because it’s only through a strong, growing economy that we’re able to create more jobs, lift wages and deliver better public services to those who need them most.”

Opposition parties including Labour Leader, Andrew Little have criticised the National Government and accused it of being “recklessly complacent” he also said in his pre-budget speech that it “has squandered opportunities to improve the lives of New Zealanders.”

The Labour leader says, “In the last 7 years, National hasn't announced a single initiative that has tackled the long term problems in our economy to improve the lives of New Zealanders. They have been recklessly complacent.”

Some of the announcements in terms of funding allocation already made by the National led Government include:

  • $33 million of new operating expenditure over the next four years to boost the number of immigration officers at a time of record-breaking visitor numbers.
  • $32 million of new operating expenditure in employment relations services over the next four years
  • $98 million will be invested into elective surgery
  • $6.5 million in 2015/16 in both new and existing initiatives to help reduce prisoner reoffending, 
  • $22.5 million over the next six years to encourage the planting of an expected 15,000 hectares of new forest.   
  • $3 million will be invested in 2015/16 to help fund the completion of Northland’s Twin Coast Cycle Trail Pou                 Herenga Tai.
  • $80 million will be invested over the next four years into R&D growth grants
  • ACC Minister Nikki Kaye has also signalled ACC is on track to provide further levy cuts of around $375 million in        2016/17 and $120 million in 2017/18.
  • The Budget will also provide $29 million of extra funding specifically for Inland Revenue to increase its property         tax compliance activities, taking its total budget in this area over the next five years to $62 million.
  • $244 million has also been announced towards expanding and building new schools

Andrew Little says, “New Zealand needs to become a country where we reward the risk takers, the innovators and the unafraid. Where we celebrate growing wealth, and where everyone who works for that success shares in the rewards.”

Politicians will debate the Budget and all the facets included this afternoon after the details are made public and only then will the country know for sure whether they can expect to see any real benefits for the average New Zealander.