Supporting Families

Columns
Friday, April 10, 2015

Family life is the cornerstone of a happy, healthy society. That’s why the well-being of young families and children has been at the heart of the Government’s new spending in a growing economy.

For example, we’ve extended paid parental leave, we’re making GP visits free for under-13-year olds, and we’re investing more in early childhood education and teacher quality. We’re also helping more Kiwis into their first house. And we’ve made more than 300,000 homes warmer, drier, and healthier.

Modern family and workforce arrangements are changing all the time, and it’s important that working parents can spend as much time with their kids as possible as well as staying connected to the workforce.

The first stage of our boost to paid parental leave came into effect this month. New parents now get 16 weeks leave and this will be extended to 18 weeks next April.

As well as extending the number of weeks in the scheme, National will make paid parental leave available to more carers – including grandparents – and more workers, helping more families.

Paid parental leave payments will be extended to casual and seasonal employees, as well as those who might have changed jobs recently and may have otherwise missed out. Workers will be able to take more leave, flexibly, as agreed with their employer.

We’ve also increased the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and the entitlement is now 10 weeks, up from eight.

On top of helping mums and dads, these are measures that will help Kiwi kids get a better start in life.

These are changes that count. National has got on with making them, just like we have got on with building a stronger economy, supported by responsible and predictable government policy.

There are 80,000 more people employed than a year ago. And wages are rising faster than inflation. Households and businesses are benefitting from low inflation and a long period of stable, low interest rates. We’re improving public services in areas like welfare, health, education, and law and order.

National’s challenge over the next few years is to build on the progress we’ve made, to ensure the economy continues to grow solidly – year on year – so we can continue to help families get ahead.