Homebuilders – Help with back to school costs

Bills for back to school costs are about to begin flowing! Uniforms, stationery, shoes – none are cheap and they arrive hot on the heels of Christmas.

Just kitting out one child in a school uniform can easily cost anywhere from $150 to $350.

Add on to that pens, pads, school bags, shoes, and the bills can be daunting, even for families on a good income. Homebuilders regularly works with families on a low wage or a benefit who, in spite of excellent budgeting, struggle simply to buy enough food each week. So finding hundreds of extra dollars for school-related costs is understandably stressful.

For some such families, Work and Income is able to consider making a “loan”, to help cover essential school-related costs that can’t be avoided. These payments, called an Advance payment or a Recoverable Assistance payment, are in practice a no-interest loan, which needs to be paid back over a two year period.

Below is the income cut-off limit for someone not on a benefit to be able to apply:

 Family Circumstances  Gross annual income limit
 Married, civil union, de facto couple  $42,700
 Sole Parent with one child  $35,674
 Sole Parent with two or more children  $37,584

Work and Income has a number of rules about who can receive one of these loans. To find out more, you can either call Work and Income (0800 559 009) or Homebuilders. Work and Income has three main categories of school-related payments they may be able to assist with – school uniforms, school stationery and school camps.

If an activity or item is part of the school’s curriculum (like seeing a play students will be assessed on, a camp trip or a school report), then your child has a right to be included whether or not you pay any voluntary donations. https://parents.education.govt.nz/primary-school/schooling-in-nz/costs-donations-fees-and-financial-assistance-including-childcare-subsidy-link-scholarships/

It is good idea to talk with your school if these costs are creating financial stress for your family, they may have some practical solutions they can offer, too.

Homebuilders, in conjunction with the Wellsford Library, is offering a short workshop on Work and Income payments to help cover back to school costs, on Tuesday, January 22 from 12.30pm to 2pm. To enrol, please call Homebuilders on 425 7048.

Quentin Jukes, Homebuilders Coordinator