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Budget Welfare Bill Sent To Select Committee

A bill bringing the first lift in base benefit levels in decades for those with children has completed its first reading and been sent to select committee.

As Parliament sat under Urgency, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the Support for Children in Hardship Bill would tackle material hardship in low income families from April 2016 by delivering the Budget’s welfare package with a focus on work.

The changes would bring in greater work test requirements for beneficiaries and it would also increase benefits for those with families by $25 per week.

Jacinda Ardern said Labour would support the bill as it would increase the benefit for those most in need, though there were concerns held over the work testing.

The Bill will take effect from 1 April 2016 by (amongst other things)—
• requiring part-time work-tested parents on a benefit to seek and be available for work that averages not less than 20 hours a week, rather than 15 hours, as now:
• requiring parents on a benefit who are able to work, to seek and be available for work, and be subject to work test obligations, once their youngest child turns 3 years of age, rather than 5, as now:
• providing for full-time work test obligations for spouses and partners of emergency benefit recipients to begin once their youngest child turns 14 years of age as for other work-tested beneficiaries:
• increasing benefit rates for beneficiary families with dependent children by $25 a week:

It completed its committee stage by 109 to 12 with NZ First 12 opposed and sent to the Social Services Committee for consideration. MPs then adjourned for dinner.

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