More than 130,000 whānau to benefit from Family Package

By Moana Makapelu Lee

Government announces long awaited Family Package. Mid-winter's here and whānau may just feel a little bit warmer.

From today more than 26,000 families are expected to benefit from the package. That number is expected to increase by 384,000 families who will receive an extra $75 per week as the policy rolls out over the next three years.

Best Start tax credit – $60 per week for babies born on and after 1 July 2018

Households that earn under $80,000 a year will be eligible to $60 per week for each child born on after 1 july 2018. Children will be eligible until 3 years of age.

Families on an Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit or Foster care allowance will also still be eligible.

If your household earns more than $80,000, the amount is reduced.

Best Start is expected to benefit around 65,000 children born each year, of which 18,000 are expected to be born to Māori families.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says, “I think it's a really good start as a government. Our focus coming into this role as government was to make sure that we did as much as we could as quickly as we could to support low and middle income NZ families."

Winter Energy Payment - $30 per week to heat homes

Beneficiaries will receive a winter energy payment to help with costs of heating homes during the winter. 138,000 Māori are expected to benefit from the Winter Energy Payment.

It will be paid from 1 July to 29 September this year and 1 May to 1 October in 2019.

Couples with dependent children will be eligible for a maximum of $31.82 a week.

Single people with no dependent children will be eligible for $20.46 a week.

Ms Sepuloni says "Does that mean that there's not more to do of course not and we're going to be focussed on ensuring that there are other more progressive policies that continue to support low and middle income New Zealand families."

Meanwhile paid parental leave has also been extended to 22 weeks from 18 weeks. National Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams says more than 1.7 million families will be worse off from Labour's changes to what was originally National’s family package.

Ms Adams says “What Labour has done by putting up the cost of petrol and the cost of food and the cost of rent through raising all the cost into those industries is actually put more pressure on those in the most need." 

But Labour MP Peeni Henare told Te Kāea Labour have contributed $5.5bil to the package. National were only going to fund $2bil.