This week a number of important policies come into effect that will help New Zealand families and put more money back in your pocket. These include free GP visits and prescriptions for children under 13, increases to paid parental leave payments and lower ACC vehicle registration fees.
From 1 July, around 700,000 children under 13 can now go to a doctor for free, any time of the day or night, and get their prescriptions free as well. That’s because we believe parents shouldn’t be put off seeking medical assistance for their children due to cost. It’s also an important preventative health measure, as parents will be more likely to take their child to the doctor…. for treatment before their condition becomes severe. The National-led Government brought in the policy of free GP visits and prescriptions for children under six, including free after-hours visits, and we have now extended this policy to all children under 13.
Another policy coming into effect on 1 July,which will benefit families, is the increase in paid parental leave payments to $516.85 per week. The Government is committed to helping children get the best start in life and ensure that New Zealand’s parental leave framework better supports Kiwi families. That’s why earlier this year we increased the length of paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 16 weeks, and on 1 April next year we will increase it again to 18 weeks. We also increased parental tax credits from a maximum of $150 to $220 a week, and extended it from eight week to 10 weeks. On top of all of this, if you own a car then you are now paying up to $130 less a year to register your vehicles through lower ACC levies. This means more money in your pockets.
In Budget 2015, we also signalled vehicle registration fees are likely to drop again to around $120, which will save vehicle owners about $210 a year. Since 2012, we’ve reduced ACC levies by around $1.5 billion a year and a further around $500 million in cuts are expected to be made in 2016 and 2017. New Zealand’s economy is performing well thanks to our responsible management of the Government’s books. That means we are able to deliver initiatives like these to help everyday Kiwi families.