The National-led Government continues to work hard to make New Zealand an even better place to live, work and raise a family. This week a number of important policies come into effect that will benefit families. From 1 April, paid parental leave will be extended by another two weeks to 18 weeks and we’re also making it available to more people. We’re committed to giving children the best possible start in life and this will make it easier for parents to take more time off work when their new baby arrives.
We’re also increasing the minimum wage by 50c to $15.25 an hour. We’ve increased the minimum wage every year we’ve been in Government and this latest increase will directly benefit around 150,000 workers. The Government has once again taken care to ensure the right balance has been struck between protecting our lowest paid workers, and ensuring jobs…. are not lost. Our steady increases to the minimum wage reflect our commitment to growing the economy, boosting incomes and supporting jobs.
We’re also increasing benefit rates for families with children by $25 a week from 1 April – the first real increase in benefit rates in 43 years. We’re also providing more support of up to $24.50 a week for low income working families not on a benefit. This is part of the Government’s $790 million investment to help children living in some of our poorest families. This investment will also see increased work obligations for sole parents on benefits, and more childcare support for low-income families to help parents be in work, education or training. Around 160,000 of New Zealand’s lowest income families will benefit from these changes, and it will help parents to better provide for their children.
Superannuation rates will also increase from 1 April as part of the National-led Government’s commitment to keeping it at 66 per cent of average incomes, which means a married couple will get an extra $15.74 a week. We’re also putting more money back in families’ pockets through lower ACC levies. Since 2012, we’ve put around $2 billion a year back into New Zealanders pockets. From 1 July, there will be further reductions to motor vehicle levies, saving motorists around $65 a year on average. The Government is working hard in a range of areas to reduce the costs on households, families and individuals while making services more accessible and affordable. There are a great number of areas we want to have a positive impact on, but these are just some practical changes that will make the lives of New Zealanders better.