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Dunne: UF delivers $300m Budget package

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Dunne: UF delivers $300m Budget package

United Future leader Peter Dunne today toted up $300 million worth of United Future initiatives in the Budget, and invited comparisons with other parties who are “playing the politics of trivia”.

“While Rodney Hide talks tennis balls and Winston Peters tries to whip up hysteria about the odd Iraqi granddad, we have delivered $300 million worth of initiatives for families and education in particular, but also in law and order, senior citizens, housing and workplace savings,” Mr Dunne said.

“I will be proud to lead this party into the election on the back of this Budget. I will be proud to lead a party that puts working constructively for a better deal for families ahead of silly political point-scoring.

“We don’t grandstand; we don’t play political games; we just quietly deliver - and our track record is there in black and white. United Future is the party that has put the New Zealand family on the political agenda - and we’ve done it to the tune of $300 million in this year’s Budget,” he said.

Mr Dunne said he was particularly pleased that United Future had secured the right for Kiwis to withdraw funds from the Workplace Savings scheme for a first home deposit, and secured a $5000 grant per person and $10,000 per couple from the Government: “This will get people under their own roof - the quintessential Kiwi dream.”

Three years of United Future lobbying had also seen the Government adjust tax brackets to give New Zealanders a fairer deal.

“United Future has also been arguing that the adjustments in the tax brackets should be indexed to inflation and we’re pleased that the Government has accepted that argument - although we’re disappointed it hasn’t quite had the courage to implement the changes immediately.

“We’ve also secured a $47 million boost for early intervention programmes aimed at children and families in greatest need; and increased police funding that will put more officers on the streets.

“And some of the financially smaller contributions are still hugely important - take the $6.2 million that will be spent on a parent education programme that will help parents help their kids when a relationship ends. This is social spending that will make a positive difference in the lives of many children.”

United Future’s budget successes are as follows:

Education

· Foundation work on a voluntary savings scheme for tertiary education.

· A bonding scheme that provides 500 scholarships for tertiary students each year in return for a period of work in New Zealand after graduation as long as the duration of their scholarship. The scholarships will provide $3000 per academic year for course fees, from the student's second year for up to four years study.

· $6 million to expand Modern Apprenticeships - providing an additional 500 Modern Apprenticeship places, bringing the total number to 9000 by December 2006.

· $7 million to fund foundation learning in the workplace, specifically for literacy and numeracy.

· Additional funding of $22 million per school year from 1 January 2006 to increase schools’ operational funding by 2.4 percent. Four Year Total $77.776m.

· After successfully widening access for student allowances in last year’s budget, we welcome the government’s decision to increase the amount that students can earn per week before their student allowance is affected from $135.13 to $180 a week, and introducing a dollar-for-dollar abatement after that point

· We are also pleased that the annual adjustment to the parental income threshold for students with siblings who are also studying will rise from $2200 to $7000, as this is in line with our student support policy.

Family

· A $47 million boost for early intervention programmes aimed at children and families in greatest need, including Family Start, and parenting education and support.

· Study awards for NGO staff studying towards social work degrees, to help overcome shortages of social workers.
· Extending the paid parental leave scheme from 1 April 2006 to provide for 14 weeks income replacement to women who have been self-employed for at least six months immediately preceding the birth or adoption of a child. An estimated 2173 self-employed people will take paid parental leave each year, at a cost of $8 million.

· The government is increasing funding for the Orphans’/Unsupported Child’s Benefit by $8 million, as part of the Working for Families package.

· Legal aid eligibility income thresholds will be amended to increase the number of New Zealanders who are potentially eligible for legal aid to 1.2 million, up from the current 765,000. This will assist family members, such as grandparents, facing legal costs with regard to assuming guardianship of children.

· $6.2 million over the next four years to run nationwide education programmes through the Family Court to help separating parents reduce conflict and the stress that separation can cause for their children.

Health

· Additional funding for the further roll-out of the Blueprint for Mental Health to 2008-09, at a cost of $22 million a year (a total increase of $222 million over the next four years).

· An additional $70 million over the next four years to fund priority health research and to strengthen the health research workforce.

Law and Order

· Increased funding of the Police of $73.6 million to provide an estimated additional 245 positions in the 2005-06 year, taking Police numbers to over 10,000 for the first time (including non-sworn staff).

· The Commissioner has been given flexibility to deploy as many new frontline staff as he can, which should enable the employment of up to 100 additional sworn officers and 20 non-sworn staff.

· A further boost to Police youth services capability, allowing Police to introduce more youth aid staff and provide better supervision of youth service operations.

· An extra $4.4 million over four years to boost services for former inmates reintegrating into the community.

Senior Citizens

· Funding for residential care for older New Zealanders has received a $70.9 million boost in Budget 2005. This should enable workers, providers and the contracting DHBs more scope to improve pay, conditions and training and the overall quality of services.

· Funding for the provision of home based support increases by $18.7 million in this year's budget, enabling improvements in quality and working conditions.

· An additional $3 million over the next four years will bolster programmes to prevent elder abuse and neglect.

Housing

· A portion of the $22.6 million package to establish the new Department of Building and Housing will be allocated to research into the habitation and housing patterns in New Zealand.

· A further $0.6 million to implement a rating scheme for homes and an incentive programme to encourage people to improve the energy efficiency of their home and to install cleaner heating.

Social Development

· $27.7 million will be invested over the next four years to help more Sickness and Invalid's beneficiaries move into work.

Workplace Savings

· Incorporating the ability to allow withdrawals for the purpose of purchasing a first home into the workplace savings scheme, as well as a $5000 grant per person to go towards the deposit.

· Ensuring that the earnings on both this scheme and other superannuation funds will be taxed at the marginal rate of the member, rather than the current flat rate of 33 cents, to remove a major disincentive to saving.

Tax

· Incremental tax cut by altering income tax brackets across the board.
· Indexing further tax reductions to occur every three years, broadly in line with inflation.

Ends.

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