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Supporting families and returning to surplus

Supporting families and returning to surplus

A $500 million support package for families and children, dividends from a growing economy, and a track to surplus next year are all features of Budget 2014, Prime Minister John Key says.

“The Budget shows the economy is continuing to build momentum and provides further evidence that the Government’s programme is on the right track,” he says.

“Forecasts show a $372 million surplus next year, increasing surpluses in subsequent years, and the economy growing by between 2 per cent and 4 per cent annually over the next four years.

“But what actually matters to families and vulnerable New Zealanders are the opportunities created by a sustainable economic recovery.

“A strong economy supports more jobs and higher incomes, and allows us to provide important public services such as health and education that New Zealanders rely on.

“Because of the Government’s responsible economic and fiscal management, Budget 2014 also provides significant extra support for families and young children in a way that is both effective and affordable.

“Our $500 million Budget package is focused clearly on young families and those vulnerable children who most need our care and protection.”

The package has five parts, and over the next four years will include:
· $172 million to boost the paid parental leave scheme. Paid leave will be extended by four weeks – starting with a two-week extension from 1 April 2015, and another two weeks from 1 April 2016. The eligibility of paid parental leave will also be expanded to include caregivers other than parents (for example, permanent guardians), and to extend payments to people in less-regular work or who recently changed jobs.
· $42 million to increase the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and increase the entitlement from eight weeks to 10 weeks, from 1 April 2015.
· $90 million to provide free GP visits and free prescriptions for children aged under 13, starting on 1 July 2015.
· An additional $156 million to help early childhood education centres to remain accessible and affordable, meet demand pressures and increase participation towards the Government’s 98 per cent target.
· $33 million in 2014/15 to help vulnerable children, including eight new children’s teams around the country to identify and work with at-risk children and their families, to screen people who work with children, and to support children in care.

“So although the Government is continuing to be careful with its spending, we have made the well-being of families and children a priority in Budget 2014,” Mr Key says.

“It’s important that we support parents in helping them to give their children the best start in life.”

Ends

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