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Budget 2014: Delivering for our Pacific families

Budget 2014: Delivering for our Pacific families

Budget 2014 delivers real benefits for our Pacific communities, says Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

“The Budget focuses on the wellbeing of our families and children, and family is at the heart of Pacific culture.

“In addition, the growing economy is providing more opportunities for Pacific people – including more jobs and higher incomes. It’s important that we continue to build on the success of the Government’s economic programme over the next few years.”

The Budget, announced last Thursday, includes a comprehensive $500 million support package for children and families, including:

· $90 million on free doctor visits and prescriptions for children under 13, helping more than 400,000 primary school aged children and their families, in particular up to 40,000 more Pacific kids will get help.

· $171.8 million to increase Paid Parental Leave (PPL) to 18 weeks by 2016, assisting around 26,000 people who get PPL every year.

· $42.3 million to increase parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week and extend it from 8 weeks to 10 weeks, helping around 15,000 families each year.

· $155.7 million to increase participation in early childhood education, with $53.6 million to boost subsidy rates, keeping ECE affordable for our Pacific kids.

· $33 million to help vulnerable children, including eight new children’s teams around the country to identify and work with at-risk children.

“These initiatives represent $500 million in spending that directly benefits all New Zealanders, including our Pacific children, families and communities,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“Currently, 40,000 Pacific children under six can see a doctor for free, day or night. From July next year, about another 45,000 Pacific children between the ages of six and 12 will also be able to get free visits to the doctor and free prescriptions.

“Happier, healthier and more engaged children are better able to learn and succeed at school and in life.”

Mr Lotu-Iiga says he is also pleased with the $22 million in funding for non-government organisations to provide more budgeting services to our families. He says the service helps them to make better financial decisions and ultimately become more financially independent.

He adds that Budget 2014 builds on the successes of Pacific people in recent years.

“We have seen great improvement in our Pacific education results since 2008 when our Government came to office. The Pacific ECE participation rate is at 89 per cent, up from 84 per cent in 2008 and Pacific students leaving with NCEA Level 2 is at 72 per cent, up from 55 per cent in 2008.”

“As educational achievements improve, our ability to obtain employment and higher paying jobs also improves.”

The number of Pacific people in employment has increased – with 7,900 more Pacific people in work than a year ago (from 98,000 to 105,900). Average weekly earnings for Pacific people in paid employment have also increased from $670 in 2008, to $764 in 2013 – an increase of 14% or $94.

“The Budget also allows us to continue the great work of Pacific Employment Support Services. Providers have placed over 296 youth into jobs and a further 172 into training. This service receives another $1 million in funding in Budget 2014.”


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