Prime Minister Weekly Column
On Thursday last week finance Minister Steven Joyce presented Budget 2017, which sets out the next stage of our strong plan for New Zealand’s future. It builds on the eight years of hard work by New Zealanders to get the Government’s books back in shape which has given us positive choices other countries simply don’t have.
The centrepiece of Budget 2017 is a $2 billion a year Family Incomes Package that will ensure Kiwi families directly share in the benefits of our strong and growing economy. This builds on measures this Government has already delivered for families such as free GP visits for under 13s, the first real benefit increases in 40 years, and record investment in health and education.
Our Family Incomes Package is carefully designed to help low and middle income earners with young families and higher housing costs, and will raise the incomes of 1.3 million families by an average of $26 per week. This is possible only because we have a strong, growing economy, backed by the National-led Government’s sensible economic programme.
The package is also expected to lift 20,000 families above the threshold for severe housing stress, and reduce the number of children living in families receiving less than half the median income by around 50,000. It includes three key elements to help hard working New Zealanders get ahead – adjusting income tax thresholds, increasing Working for Families, and providing additional support for people on low incomes with high accommodation costs.
The changes mean someone working full-time on the minimum wage will receive $11 a week more, while anyone earning over $52,000 will receive an extra $20 a week in their pocket. We’re also increasing Working for Families by raising the Family Tax Credit payment for each child under 16 by between $9 and $27 a week, a change that will benefit 310,000 families.
And we’re boosting support for New Zealanders on low incomes who have high accommodation costs. The maximum accommodation supplement for a two-person household increases by between $25 and $75 a week, while the maximum for larger households increases by up to $80 a week. Around 750,000 super-annuitants and 41,000 students will also benefit from the package.
The money in the Government’s accounts has been earned by hard-working taxpayers, and we want to ensure we make the biggest difference we can with those surpluses. Budget 2017 is about delivering for all New Zealanders – this is the whole point of having a strong and growing economy. This Family Incomes Package is the first step in allowing Kiwi families to spend more of their own money, so they can make the decisions that are best for them.