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Working for Families freephone gets 42,000 calls

27 September 2004

Working for Families freephone receives 42,000 calls

Work and Income’s freephone line has been well used since a publicity campaign began in August to encourage people to find out what they are entitled to from the government’s $1.1 billion Working for Families package.

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said that 42,000 calls had been received since Working for Families was announced in May, with over 30,000 of those calls coming in since the nation-wide publicity campaign started.

“I’m pleased that the publicity has generated such a lot of interest as so many families stand to benefit from the package. I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet checked their entitlements to do so before 1 October. People should apply as soon as possible, as Work and Income cannot backdate payments.”

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 2004 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 October.

Families who become eligible for assistance for the first time need to apply for it as neither Inland Revenue or the Ministry of Social Development hold the information that would enable them to identify newly eligible households. Exisiting clients of IRD or MSD who qualify for increased assistance will be directly contacted by letter.

The first Working for Families changes will: (from 1 October) lower the entry thresholds at which people not on benefits 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 (from 4 October) increase the income thresholds for childcare assistance.

Work and Income’s free-phone number is 0800 774 004, and more information can be found at www.workandincome.govt.nz.

ENDS

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