News - Politics
Budget 2004 - The budget for working families
The 2004 Government Budget is mainly aimed at supporting low income families through a $1.1 billion package of benefits, supplements and increases in Family Support. Other Budget packages include increased support for early childhood education and funding for workplace learning representatives.
One of the main reasons the budget focuses on low-income families is because the Government wants more economic growth and higher wages, which could be achieved if more people 'participated in the workforce' - i.e. if more people had jobs. This means that most of the major parts of the budget are funding for working parents to allow them to work more as well as receive support to keep their families financially stable.
More childcare, higher payments for Family Assistance, the new 'In-Work payment, and even better education in the workplace are all aimed at creating higher numbers of working parents. New Zealand has a lower rate of women in the labour force than other countries such as Sweden and the Government hopes that their Budget incentives will mean more women are working which will lead to economic growth. A growing economy is seen as a way to achieve higher wages for working people.
A separate package sets aside $1.1 million over 4 years to expand the Skill New Zealand campaign, which will see a 2 year pilot plan developed to introduce learning representatives on the shop floor.
2005 - Family Support will increase from $47 to $72 per week for the first child and from $32 to $47 per week for subsequent children. Rates and thresholds for Family Support will now be regularly adjusted for inflation.
2006 - The In-Work payment, beginning in April 2006, will give two-parent families, working at least 30 hours per week up to $60 per week. The In-Work payments also include increased payments for working families with children. Sole parent families working at least 20 hours per week will be eligible for the same benefit.
The In-Work payment will be available to over 100,000 low-and-middle income, working families. The average increase in weekly income is $66 per week, per household.
2007 - From April 2007 Family Support will increase by another $10 per child.
From 1 July 2007 all 3 and 4 year olds will get 20 hours free education at community-based services. They will also get an additional 10 hours childcare subsidised.
The government estimates that by 2007, 61% of families will benefit from the Budget packages.
Budget 2004 - making life easier for SFWU members
SFWU members James and Losa Lotulelei are cleaners at Auckland University of technology (AUT). They are an example of one family of SFWU members who will benefit from thise years' Government Budget.
The household: James, 34; Losa, 31; Viliauni, 11; Temaleki, 9; Lisieli, 4; plus Losa's parents, Moumi and Sioni Talunga. Live in Grey Lynn.
Income: James (cleaner) $21,632; Losa (also cleaner) $21,632; $652 a week after tax. Losa's parents get national super of $383.22 a week (married couple rate). No Family Support.
Weekly expenditure: Rent (Housing NZ) $220 per week; food/supermarket $150; payments on van $90; petrol, insurance and van repairs $40; power $20; phone $20. Parents both work as cleaners at night while grandparents mind the children.
They were on a picket line outside the Auckland University of Technology this week because AUT has switched contractors from QSE to Cleaning Plus, which has cut staffing from 22 to 16. The remaining 16 say they can't do the work of 22 people.
Budget hopes: More help for families with children
What they got: $55 extra Family Support next April, $25 more in April 2006 and $30 more in April 2007; plus $15 more from the In-Work Payment. Total increase by 2007: $125 a week.