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Green Budget for children, students and the needy

19 May, 2004

A Green Budget for children, students and the needy

Forget the Government's much-trumpeted Budget package for struggling families: Green MP Sue Bradford says Labour's failure to back her Universal Child Benefit bill proves that next week's speech by Dr Cullen is just a PR exercise that will deliver too little, too late.

Ms Bradford today set-out the social spending priorities that a Green-influenced Budget would deliver on, including provisions to end child poverty, relieve the debt-burden for students and help those most in need.

The Green Social Services spokesperson acknowledged that her Social Security (Child Benefit) Amendment Bill would be defeated on the first reading tonight, with Labour's opposition in stark contrast to indications of support from New Zealand First and United Future.

"A government serious about ending the child poverty that cripples the future of so many of our young could surely afford the $15 per week for the first child and $10 per week for every other child that we're promoting," said Sue Bradford.

"As a minimum, next week's Budget should raise family support payments for the first child to at least $75 per week to compensate for cost-of-living adjustments, in the same way as super and other benefits are adjusted. It should also stop discriminating against the children of beneficiaries and extend the child tax credit to all families."

Ms Bradford called for the Budget to take into account the plight of students by announcing the re-introduction of a Universal Student Allowance.

"Ballooning student debt is having a massive flow-on effect on our way of life and standards of living," Ms Bradford said. "Home ownership is becoming an impossibility for young families while debt-laden couples are putting-off having children. Those who do choose to have children early find their ability to provide for them severely limited by debt repayments."

Ms Bradford also called for the Budget to provide support for those members of society most in need.

"A Green Budget would immediately increase all benefits by $20 per week," said Ms Bradford. "We would also simplify the benefit system to make it less of an obstacle course for people needing help and put the necessary resources into Work and Income to attract and retain highly-skilled and motivated staff.

"We would remove the stand-down period for benefits except for limited compliance testing, increase funding for the enterprise allowance, to get more unemployed into their own businesses and replace the Benefit Review Committee with an independent body."

ENDS

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