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Benefits,Student Allowances,War Pensions Increase

Benefits, Student Allowances, and War Pensions to increase

Benefit payments, student allowances and war pensions will increase from April 1, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey said the benefit, allowance and pension increases were based on the change in the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

"Because there was just an 0.51% change in the CPI for the year to December 1999, it does mean only a small change in the rates.

“However the government is working on a range of social initiatives that will overall provide greater security and opportunity for New Zealanders.

“Further details will become clear as programmes are developed.

"In the meantime, it has already been announced that income-related rents for low-income state tenants will be in place by the end of the year.

“Reduced housing costs will be a significant benefit for those on low-incomes. Getting income-related rents in place is a priority for this government.

"From April 1 superannuitants will also have their pensions increased following the Government's decision in January to restore the floor for New Zealand Superannuation from 60 per cent to 65 per cent of the average, ordinary time weekly wage.

"The changes the Government made last year to the value of the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA), which pays the tuition fees and other costs of those in receipt of the domestic purposes, widows and invalids benefits and the emergency maintenance allowance, have made it easier or beneficiaries to enrol for tertiary study this year. The TIA rate structure will be also be adjusted for inflation from 1 April.

“In addition, special focus is being given to developing measures that will assist in reducing the disparities faced by Maori and Pacific peoples, and work is underway on a range of other initiatives across the social sector to build up the capability of our communities and create stronger families," Steve Maharey said.

Examples of the increases in after-tax weekly rates for benefits, student allowances and war pensions that rise in line with the CPI from April 1 are:

 for an unemployed person, or a full-time student living away from home aged 25 or over, up 75c to $148.64
 for a married couple on the community wage with no children, $1.26c to $247.72
 for a single person over 18 years receiving the invalids benefit up 94c to $185.79
 for a sole parent with one child up $1.08c to $212.90
 for a war disablement pensioner receiving 100% disability rate, up 75c to $146.90.

Contact: Michael Gibbs, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9154 or (025) 270 9115.

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