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Families are at the heart of Budget 2014

Hon Bill English
Minister of Finance

Families are at the heart of Budget 2014

I have just delivered my sixth Budget, and the first to deliver a surplus.

It’s a confident Budget for a confident country.

We’re in an enviable position compared with many others in the developed world. Our economy is growing steadily and creating more jobs. Average wages are rising faster than inflation. That’s happening now and Budget forecasts show it continuing, with 170,000 more people in work by mid-2018 and unemployment projected to fall to 4.4 per cent.

This budget shows that National is responsibly managing the Government’s finances. We’ll record a small surplus next year and larger surpluses in the coming years, which will allow us some extra spending, but not so much that it pushes interest rates higher than they otherwise would be.

Responsible management over the last five years has allowed for some new spending this year, and our first priority is families. We’ve put children and families at the heart of our new spending. We will:
• Make GP visits and prescriptions free for children under 13
• Extend paid parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks, and expand eligibility
• Increase the parental tax credit from $150 to $220 a week, and extend the payment period from 8 to 10 weeks
• Invest $156 million over four years to help early childhood centres remain accessible and affordable
• Spend $33 million on a package of measures to help the most vulnerable children

Lifting the quality of teaching is another priority. It’ll help children now, and help New Zealand’s performance in the longer term.

We’re working on making houses more affordable. That’s not going to happen overnight. There are lots of things we need to do, and that councils need to do, and we’re making it happen.

New Zealanders have shown considerable resilience since the domestic recession that Labour left us with, which was followed by the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.

Assuming we stick to our economic plan, we’ve set out a timeline for reducing debt, and resuming contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

I’m pleased to have delivered a Budget that looks ahead, for a country that’s going forward. I encourage you to see more about the budget here.

ENDS

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