Over the past month I have run a survey on social media. It has confirmed what we have heard over many months of making welfare calls all through the electorate. Many have told me how pleased they are to be living in the peaceful, friendly community that is the Hibiscus Coast (or wider Rodney) and how grateful they are for the government keeping them as safe as possible during the pandemic.
Since coming into government, my colleagues and I have worked hard to support low and middle income Kiwis. This month government introduced a suite of changes that will see the majority of New Zealand families better off.
The rising cost of living, driven by global inflation and the war in Ukraine, is making things tough for everyone. We can’t control global events, but we can control how we support New Zealanders. To combat these rising costs, government has put in place extra measures to help ease the pressure on Kiwis, including the April 1 changes.
Our improvements to Working for Families alone will see around 60 percent of Kiwi families better off by an average of $20 per week. Families will also benefit from increases to the family tax credit and Best Start, as well as expanded Childcare Assistance.
It’s not just families who’ll see a boost. Full-time minimum wage workers will earn $48 more weekly. Both the Student Allowance and Student Loan Living Costs are increasing by $25, while main benefits are increasing by up to $35 a week.
Seniors will also benefit, with single people on Superannuation getting a boost of $52 a fortnight and couples receiving $80 extra. From May 1, the Winter Energy Payment will also start again, to help more than a million people with heating bills.
We’ve taken action to provide relief from the petrol price spikes caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and it’s awesome to hear this is already making a difference. Half-price public transport fares kicked in on April 1, remaining in place for three months.
There’s no silver bullet for current cost pressures, but these measures will provide some relief. They build on actions we’ve taken since 2017 to ensure Kiwi families have more in their pocket to get ahead, such as the family tax credit, free school lunches, and cheaper doctors’ fees.
Despite the impact of Covid-19, New Zealand’s economy is in a strong position, with record low unemployment, high export prices and lower levels of debt than many other countries.
We’re committed to securing a recovery from Covid-19 that leaves no one behind. Supporting households with the cost of living is just one way we can make that a reality.