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Families Should Investigate 'Working for Families'

2 September 2004

Families urged to learn what they can gain from Working for Families

Families are being urged to investigate whether they qualify for enhanced childcare and accommodation assistance changes being introduced as part of the government’s $1.1b Working for Families package.

Announced as part of Budget 2004, Working for Families will provide extra income assistance to almost 300,000 New Zealand families by 2007/08.

With the October 04 changes it is expected that 5,700 newly eligible households will take up the Accommodation Supplement and 5,600 more families will receive the extra childcare assistance that becomes available at the start of next month. Planned expenditure on the Accommodation Supplement and Childcare Assistance elements of the Working for Families package in 2004/05 is $79.211 million.

These first Working for Families changes will: (from 1 October) decrease the thresholds at which households qualify for the Accommodation Supplement (from 1 October) remove abatement of the Accommodation Supplement for people on benefit and NZ super until they move off benefit (from 1 October ) increase the threshold at which the Accommodation Supplement starts reducing for people not on benefit (from 4 October) increase and standardise the hourly subsidy rates for pre-school childcare and for OSCAR (Out of School Care and Recreation). In the past, the OSCAR rate has been well below the pre-school rate, making childcare a less affordable option once a child starts school, and (from 4 October) increase the income thresholds for childcare assistance.

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said many more families will be eligible for family income support than at present.

“The majority of New Zealand families with children (61 per cent) will be eligible for new or increased family income assistance through the Working for Families package once fully implemented in 2007/08. For many families this will be the first time they have qualified for assistance of any kind.

“Families who become eligible for assistance for the first time need to apply for it as neither Inland Revenue (IRD) or the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) hold the information which would enable them to identify newly eligible households. Payments are unable to be back-dated so I encourage all those who think they may be eligible to ring the Working for Families freephone on 0800 774 004 this month for more information.

“Exisiting clients of IRD or MSD who qualify for increased assistance will be directly contacted by letter.

“To encourage families to investigate whether they are eligible for the new assistance a four-week public awareness campaign is now underway. The campaign is being managed by a joint communications group of Inland Revenue and Ministry of Social Development officials. Costing $800,000, the campaign includes updated brochures and forms, media placement, radio and print advertising and a mail-out to more than 300,000 households.

“Funding for the communication strategy comes from the up to $21.1 million approved in Budget 2004 for a three-year coordinated communications campaign.

“All Working for Families communciations, including advertising, will continue to be cleared with the Auditor-General to ensure they comply with Cabinet Office guidelines,” Steve Maharey said.


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