Families package and other benefit boosts start today

A bunch of benefit boosts kick in today, 1 July. Those who qualify will get more money as they next payments become due.

Superannuants who get a winter payment, and families having babies or with eligible children will benefit. other families and individuals get nothing.

Beehive: Supporting New Zealand families

From 1 July 2018, thousands of New Zealanders will be eligible for extra support through the Government’s Families Package.

Working for Families

If you have children and your household earns up to $81,000 a year, you could be eligible for Working for Families tax credits. Some larger families earning more will also be eligible.

Calculator: check what you could get

Learn more about Working for Families

Best Start baby payments

If you have a baby born (or due to be born) on or after 1 July 2018, you will receive a $60 weekly payment until your child turns one. For parents who are taking paid parental leave, this payment begins after that leave ends.

If your household income is less than $79,000 a year, you will continue to receive Best Start until your child turns three.

Find out what you’re eligible for

Paid parental leave

We’re extending paid parental leave to 22 weeks from 1 July 2018. This will rise to 26 weeks by 2020.

Paid parental leave is available for new parents and other primary carers, such as adoptive parents and grandparents with full-time care.

Once Paid Parental Leave is finished, Best Start payments for families begin. For families receiving Paid Parental Leave, the Best Start tax credit will begin after Paid Parental Leave ends.

Find out more

Winter Energy Payment 

If you receive Superannuation, a Veteran’s Pension or a main benefit, you will receive this payment automatically from 1 July 2018 for 13 weeks. In future years, it will start on 1 May and continue for 22 weeks.

If you’re single, you’ll get an extra $20.46 a week.  Couples and people with dependent children will get an extra $31.82 a week.

Learn more

Help with housing costs

The Accommodation Supplement is a weekly payment that helps people with their rent, board or cost of owning a home.

Calculator: check what you’re eligible for

More details from Work and Income.

This all adds complexity to the myriad of benefits available.

It is simply for me – I get nothing from it. All I get is to gradually pay more income tax, and more fuel tax.

Families package praise plus tax nonsense

John Tamihere praises the Families Package that was passed in Parliament just prior to Christmas, but repeats the ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation of the tax cuts that were scrapped in Tax cuts are the wrong approach

When the Labour-led government passed its Families Package Act the week before Christmas, it signalled a culture and direction switch for this country and a beacon of light for thousands of New Zealanders.

The main features of the reforms mean that at a minimum, 384,000 New Zealand families will increase their weekly income by $75. On top of that, there is a $450 energy payment that can be deployed on anything targeted at beneficiaries and superannuates.

A $60 per week best start baby benefit for the first year of a child’s life, extends to three years for low income families. The package is complex, given the amount of individual household variations for different compositions of families. In general terms, households with children with incomes below $60,000 will receive additional payments.

That’s a good thing – for families.

Children, who through no fault of their own are born into low waged and/or beneficiary families, had a brighter Christmas and New Year because of this package.

That’s nonsense. The package was passed in Parliament just prior to Christmas but children are unlikely to be aware of it and it doesn’t take effect for a few months yet.

This Act is significant in itself because it was able to repeal the $8.4 billion worth of tax cuts promised by the National Government. Cuts that would have increased the income of very well-off New Zealanders, not the large numbers of working Kiwis who are on struggle street.

That’s just straight bullshit – a line largely spun by Jacinda Ardern and Labour during and after the election campaign.

For people with the supposed knowledge of how tax works and what the tax cuts would have done this is blatant false information, lying.

Everyone who pays income tax would have benefited from National’s tax cuts, including those on lower and average incomes.

The Families Package benefits families more, or more accurately, households with children up to eighteen years of age.

But it has taken away legislated tax cuts for all those families without children at home or with older children.

Households in Auckland who use cars will pay additional fuel tax, people who smoke tobacco will pay more tax, superannuates will get no tax relief, rates continue to rise around the country.

Low income earners with no children will not benefit – they will be left on struggle street.

The new direction set with the Families Package legislation means we will no longer accept the mantra that tax cuts are good.

I don’t know who Tamihere refers to as ‘we’ – perhaps that’s Labour’s PR department.

He also doesn’t mention that while “very well off New Zealanders” who have children will not now get tax cuts they will benefit from the Families Package.

More money for people with low incomes and with children is fair enough, to an extent.

But Tamihere should be honest about how the re-targeting still benefits many richer people, and it takes away tax cuts from a lot of poorer people.

 

Interim budget – families package

The Government released it’s interim budget today, which mostly confirmed what was already known, with a few numbers thrown in.

Budget update – fairness and prosperity

The Government is delivering on its commitment to manage New Zealand’s finances responsibly while ensuring the dividends of economic growth are more fairly shared.

We promised we would be a Government of change. The Government has made a clear choice to put the wellbeing of all New Zealanders firmly at the heart of what we do.

The Budget Policy Statement and our 100-Day Plan announcements are proof that this Government will be different, one that will lead the country in a new, positive and inclusive direction.

 

Budget update press releases:

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern  – Prime Minister

The Government is delivering on its commitment to manage New Zealand’s finances responsibly while ensuring the dividends of economic growth are more fairly shared, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“We promised we would be a Government of change. Together with our coalition partner, New Zealand First and our confidence and supply partner, the Green Party, we have made a clear choice to put the wellbeing of all New Zealanders firmly at the heart of what we do.

“Today’s Budget Policy Statement and our 100-Day Plan announcements are proof that the Government I lead will be different, one that will lead the country in a new, positive and inclusive direction.

“It will be a Government that makes reducing child poverty and inequality a priority. That is why we are moving with urgency to introduce legislation for the Families Package. This delivers on one of the key promises of our 100-Day Plan, alongside running balanced Budgets and paying down debt.

“We can pay for the Families Package and our fees-free policy for post-secondary education by cancelling National’s tax cuts.

“The Families Package will provide a significant boost to the incomes of low- and middle-income families. No family will be worse off than they are today, and most families with children will be better off.

When fully rolled out in 2020/21, 384,000 families with children will be better off by an average of $75 a week, with many lower-income families receiving more.

“We know working families struggle at times to provide the very best for their children. The early years of a child’s life are critically important to their long-term wellbeing and development.

“The Families Package is projected to lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2020/21* – a 48 per cent reduction in the number of children living in poverty compared to the status quo. That’s 39,000 more children lifted out of poverty than under the previous National Government’s package.

“The Families Package includes a targeted boost to Working for Families, giving more money to low- and middle-income families with children, and increasing the number of families who will be eligible for support.

“The money saved from reversing National’s tax cuts also allows us to invest in Best Start as part of the Families Package. Every child deserves the best start in life; our policy will provide an income boost for all families with newborns.

“The Families Package includes the Winter Energy Payment, providing a welcome support to one million superannuitants and beneficiaries who face big heating bills in winter.

“This will provide long-term gains for the country and is fiscally responsible. We can do this while meeting all the targets we have set ourselves under the Budget Responsibility Rules, and without raising anyone’s personal income tax.

“The steps we are taking today show this Government’s determination to make a difference to the lives of many New Zealanders so more can share in the gains of economic growth. It’s about priorities and choices,” says Jacinda Ardern.

*   Defined as living in a household with an income less than 50 per cent of median equivalised household income before deducting housing costs

Hon Grant Robertson – Finance

“We can meet all of our commitments within our Budget Responsibility Rules. These commitments include our 100-Day Plan; Labour’s other policies in the pre-election Fiscal Plan; the Coalition Agreement between Labour and New Zealand First; and the Confidence and Supply Agreement between Labour and the Green Party.

“The Treasury’s Half Year Update incorporates the costs of our 100-Day Plan. The BPS indicates how policies outside this will be afforded within the capital and operating expenditures allowed in future Budgets. Over the next four years, allowances for policies outside of the 100-Day Plan provide $21.7 billion in new operating expenditure, and capital allowances provide for $12.6 billion of new investments.

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021.*

“Boosts to Working for Families, the introduction of Best Start and the Winter Energy Payment, reinstating the Independent Earner Tax Credit and continuing with the recent Accommodation Supplement changes will greatly help struggling families to access the basics which all New Zealanders should have.

“Within our 100-Day Plan we have kept our promise to begin fees-free post-secondary school education and training, kicked off the work on KiwiBuild, legislated for 26 weeks Paid Parental Leave and Healthy Homes, and much more.

“We will measure our progress as a Government differently – by focussing on improving wellbeing and lifting living standards. The first steps towards this are in our 100-Day Plan, with legislation to develop child poverty indicators that must be reported against at Budget time.

“Over the next four years, economic growth is set to remain strong, averaging 3 per cent. Unemployment is forecast to fall to the Government’s 4 per cent target, and wages are forecast to rise on average by more than 3 per cent annually.

“The Treasury forecasts we will keep government spending within its recent historical range, and that net core Crown debt will fall to 19.3 per cent of GDP within five years of us taking office – as promised.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni & Hon Tracey Martin – Social Development & Children

Hon Kelvin Davis – Crown/Māori Relations

Hon Auptio William Sio – Pacific Peoples

Hon Phil Twyford – Housing and Urban Development

Hon Chris Hipkins – Education

Hon James Shaw – Climate Change, Statistics, Associate Finance

Hon Megan Woods & Hon Carmel Sepuloni – Energy and Resources & Social Development

Mixed reaction to Labour’s family package

There has been some support but a surprising amount of criticism over the ‘family package’ that Labour announced yesterday.

It hands out more money to 70% of families, and includes a winter bonus for beneficiaries and superannuitants, but would scrap the tax cuts National has scheduled for 2.2 million workers.

Tax rates have effectively been creeping up over the last eight years as wages increase into higher tax brackets. Labour is ignoring that – Michael Cullen’s failure to address bracket creep was a significant factor in growing discontent over the Helen Clark led Labour government.

Adding complexity to an already complicated system gets particular criticism.

RNZ:  Labour’s plan labelled ‘convoluted spaghetti of entitlements’

The $890 million a year policy would boost Working for Families, give a $60-a-week payments for families with children under three, and help beneficiaries and pensioners pay for their heating.

The Labour Party would scrap National’s tax changes that were announced in May’s budget, which Labour said would deliver a disproportionate benefit to the top 10 percent of income earners.

Child Poverty Action Group economic spokesperson Susan St John said Labour’s families package was more generous than National’s, but it did make the system more complicated, and could result in people receiving less money.

Ms St John said the boosting of Working for Families by Labour built on what National started and was a recognition from both parties that the current system did not work.

She said Labour should have also scrapped the in-work tax credit.

Not surprisingly National has also criticised it.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said by not going ahead with the government’s tax changes, Labour was fleecing billions of dollars from New Zealanders.

“Why don’t they just trust people more with their own money? Let the thresholds move up to reflect the fact that wages are rising, and give superannuitants the benefit of that through the superannuation link to after tax wages.”

He agreed the extra entitlements would make it harder for people to know how much money they receive overall.

“All they’ve come up with is a convoluted spaghetti of entitlements that will confuse everyone.”

Patrick Gower: 2.2 million Kiwis miss tax cuts under Labour’s package

Labour has promised it will scrap National’s tax cuts – meaning 2.2 million Kiwis miss out on extra money.

National says 1.2 million workers who earn $26,000 to $52,000 a year will miss out on an annual cut of $560, while another one million workers who earn over $52,000 a year will miss out on an annual cut of $1000.

Labour’s package is risky, as it targets beneficiaries, superannuitants, people with babies and those on or close to Working for Families thresholds, with anyone else missing out on what National has promised.

“Now is not the time for tax cuts,” Labour leader Andrew Little said while announcing the package.

The Standard has tried to put a good slant on it in Labour’s Targeted Families Package.

Lots to like here!

There is some support in comments but also quite a bit of criticism, especially over adding to Working For Families. Jenny Kirk responds to the reaction:

Surprise, surprise – the majority of Standard posters having a grizzle about Labour again.

I just came on here to see if any of your right-minded posters had anything complimentary to say about Labour doing away with the Nats proposed tax cuts and using those funds instead to help people who are struggling – and other than a couple of you, you have all degenerated down to the grizzling level and miserable-mindedness of the “well offs” !

If Labour can’t sell their package to The Standard audience then they may have a challenge ahead of them.

But it isn’t all negative, Lloyd commented:

Andrew Little is a kind and intelligent bloke investing in us all.

Steve Joyce is working for Emirates, BMW and Jaguar and starves babies – what a bastard!

The voters will decide whether they agree with Labour on this approach to targeting families and allowing the majority of workers to pay for it through higher taxes.