Helping families get ahead – 1 April changesPrime Minister
A number of important government policies came into effect on April 1 that will help New Zealand families and children and complement the work the National-led Government already has underway.
The Government’s HomeStart programme will help an estimated 90,000 low and middle income first home buyers into their own home over the next five years.
This programme means New Zealanders will be able to withdraw more money from their KiwiSaver to put towards a deposit to buy their first home. We are also increasing the amount and eligibility for government grants - couples are now eligible to apply for up to $20,000 to put towards a deposit to buy a house.
Other changes that have come into effect include:
- Paid parental leave increased by two weeks to 16 weeks – and will increase again by another two weeks from 1 April next year.
- Parental tax credits increased from $150 a week to $220 a week, and the entitlement increased from eight weeks to 10 weeks.
- New Zealand Superannuation increased by another 2.07 per cent – meaning it has increased by 31 per cent since 2008 – double the rate of inflation.
- Average ACC levies paid by employers and self-employed people fell from 95 cents per $100 of liable earnings to 90 cents. More cuts to ACC levies will come into effect on 1 July.
- The adult minimum wage increased by 3.5 per cent – up from $14.25 to $14.75. This increase strikes the right balance between supporting our lowest-paid workers and ensuring that wages are affordable for small businesses. It will increase wages throughout the economy by around $60 million per year.
It’s only through a strong, growing economy that we are able to deliver important policies like these that will benefit New Zealand families. A strong economy also leads to more jobs and better wages.
More changes will come into effect on 1 July 2015 that also benefit New Zealand families. These include:
- Free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children aged under six will be extended to children aged under 13 from 1 July 2015. More than 400,000 primary school-aged children and their families are expected to benefit from this investment.
- The average ACC motor vehicle levy will fall by around $135 a year, which means New Zealanders will be better off by around $480 million through ACC levy cuts in 2015/16.