New measures to ease cost of living pressures

Social Development and Employment
  • End of the $5 prescription co-payment
  • Public Transport changes, free for under 13s, half priced for under 25s and over 1 million low-income Kiwis
  • Child Support Pass On changes take effect, more money into the pockets of 41,500 sole parents
  • Flexi-Wage available for people aged 65 years and over
  • Funding for driver licence support services to help remove barriers to obtaining a licence

A suite of targeted measures and practical supports take effect from today, 1 July, to help Kiwis into work, bring down the cost of living, and put more money into the pockets of 41,500 sole parents.

“Our cost-of-living measures announced in the Budget will have real long-term benefits. Particularly by making most prescriptions free. An estimated three million people from today will no longer have to worry about the cost of collecting medication,” Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We are also supporting 1 million low-income New Zealanders with a community services card by making public transport more affordable for them. Alongside this we are making it permanently free for under 13s and half priced for under 25 year-olds,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We recognise that many people and whānau need some help with the basics right now which is why our Government is continuing to make targeted investments that won’t drive up inflation. Help with transport and medication costs are a key component of our approach.

“We’re delivering practical cost of living support and making changes so that Kiwis are supported to earn and learn, or if you’re over 65 years, can get into work to supplement your retirement savings. Every bit counts when making ends meet.

“Also taking effect today are our Child Support Pass On changes. This means from 22 August, approximately 41,500 sole parent families will receive an average of $65 per week of child support, with a median gain of $24 per week.

Following the abatement of benefits and other assistance, these families will benefit financially by a median of $20 per week. It’s also estimated that this change will help lift as many as 14,000 children out of poverty.

“We’re delivering tangible and meaningful support to sole parents and have taken action to change an unfair policy that dates back to 1936. This is a component of our Welfare Overhaul programme and I’m pleased that we’re continuing to deliver on it,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The Government’s Flexi-Wage expansion is also proving to be a success, with over 20,000 people supported into jobs so far.

“There are many people with barriers to employment. Flexiwage helps remove these by providing a financial incentive for employers to take on people who might be disadvantaged in the Labour Market,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We’re building on the progress and success of the programme by enabling people getting Superannuation or on a Veteran’s Pension to take up Flexi-wage if they meet certain criteria. For many, staying or entering into employment can help you maintain social connections, keep physically or mentally active and help you gain a more disposable income to supplement your Superannuation payments,”

The Government is also tasking providers and organisations to help more Kiwis obtain their driver’s licence.

“The next financial year will see 15,000 places available across the motu for people to complete a programme that’ll support them to get a driver’s license. The programme of support may include professional driving lessons, access to a legal vehicle to take a test, eye tests and licence and testing costs,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We know that having a driver licence is a key requirement for up to 70 per cent of jobs. However, there are many within our community that can’t access training or tests due to the costs and other barriers.

“Through Budget 2022, we’re supporting an estimated 64,000 people to overcome these barriers to gaining their driver licences. This targeted support will also help turn the tide on the number of people whose criminal records start off with fines for driving without a licence.

“This is a win-win for everyone. It’ll help Kiwis meet job requirements and find work, create more equitable access to gaining your licence, bring independence and security, all whilst making our roads safer,” Carmel Sepuloni said.