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National announces transitional relief package

John Key MP National Party Leader

31 October 2008

National announces transitional relief package

National Party Leader John Key says he has absolute confidence that with a fresh growth-oriented approach, New Zealand and New Zealanders will emerge in a strong position from the current global turmoil.

"If we come together as New Zealanders and squarely face these challenges, we will emerge all the stronger for it."

"If New Zealanders vote for National to lead the next Government we will be guided by two goals: providing Kiwis with financial security, and setting the economy on a growth path.

"But in a time of economic uncertainty it is absolutely vital that the Government provide New Zealanders with security about the public services they can expect and the support they are entitled to. There is absolutely no way I will pull the rug out from New Zealanders when they most need the Government's help.

"For the next two years, while New Zealand navigates its way through this global recession, National will offer extra assistance to Kiwis who are worst hit by redundancy.

"National's transitional relief package will offer assistance to people who are made redundant and who, as a result, either go on a benefit or have to rely on the income of a relatively low-paid partner or spouse.

"This assistance will be available until they get another job and their circumstances improve, or for up to 16 weeks.

"This assistance will give redundant New Zealanders some space to sort out their financial affairs and get a new job or adjust their circumstances following a redundancy. It will give them a helping hand in a tough time.

"It will also be simple to administer. I don't want to add more bureaucracy to the already complex system of state support. National's package builds on entitlements that already exist and for which eligibility rules are already in place."

Mr Key says the package has two parts: 1) A $100 boost to the maximum weekly Accommodation Supplement, to help people pay their rent or mortgage, and 2) A Working for Families top-up equivalent to the in-work tax credit, for those families that were previously receiving it but have become ineligible because of a redundancy.

Both of these extra payments will be available for up to 16 weeks for those who have been in the same job for six months.

"The boost to the maximum Accommodation Supplement is important because it is specifically aimed at people who may find it hard to pay their rent or mortgage. It allows for their particular circumstances, including where they live, the size of their rent or mortgage payments, and their family make-up.

"The Working for Families top-up is important because it covers the double blow some families may receive when one of them loses their job. At the moment people who are made redundant not only lose their wages, they may also lose their eligibility for the in-work tax credit."

National estimates this package will cost no more than $42 million a year and has left head room in its fiscal policy for this plan.

"The important thing to know is that National's transitional relief package is carefully targeted, is based on existing entitlements, and is designed to help Kiwis meet their financial obligations at a tough time in their lives. It will help Kiwis who have worked hard and have big aspirations for the future but who are, through no fault of their own, coping with a big financial blow.

"The biggest difference with Labour's plan is that theirs is one of 30 or so spending promises that one week out from an election are still completely unfunded. They have no idea where the money is coming from; they have given no indication what programmes they will cut to pay for it. It is, in short, a political hoax.

"Should I be elected to lead the next Government, I will introduce this relief package as a matter of priority. It will initially be available for two years, at which point we will have a close look at it to determine whether or not it should continue, either in whole or in part.

"We all have a stake in getting our most vulnerable through a rough patch. This is a country that was built on a sense of fairness and a sense of our obligations to each other.

"I am simply not prepared to look hard-pressed New Zealanders in the eye and say 'you're on your own in this recession'. I will stay the course with them during tough times."

ENDS

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