Plunket is welcoming the child hardship package of $790 million over four years in today’s budget as a step forward in helping children in New Zealand’s poorest families.
As part of the government’s ‘child hardship package’, as of 1 April 2016 beneficiaries with children will receive $25 a week more. Families not on a benefit on a low income will receive up to $12.50 more from Working for Families, or $24.50 a week for those with very low incomes.
“We welcome the government’s decision to put more money into the pockets of those families who regularly don’t have enough money to heat their home, or buy enough food for their children or for themselves,” said Jenny Prince, Plunket’s Chief Executive.
“Reducing child poverty is the best investment we can make in our future, and will require multiple actions. We welcome the government’s commitment today to invest more in vulnerable children as a significant and positive step forwards in a longer journey.”
As part of its child hardship package, the government also announced as of 1 April 2016 it will require sole parents on a benefit with children aged three and four to be available to work 20 hours a week. Previously, sole parents were required to be available for 15 hours of work when their youngest child turned five.
“It is important there are protections in place to ensure that this is not at the expense of taking away from their ability to parent well. It’s important to recognize that a parent raising a child is of value to society, just as we recognise that a parent working is of value to society.”
Plunket also welcomed the pre-budget announcement of free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children aged under 13. This takes effect from 1 July 2015 and the government estimates over 400,000 children will benefit.
“This is a positive step in removing one of the barriers families living in poverty face in getting access to the right health services for their children,” she said.
She said that children living in poverty are more likely to have health problems from living in over-crowded, cold, damp housing and having little nutritious food, and have a higher than average risk of hospitalisation for infectious diseases and injury from assault.
“Plunket welcomes today’s announcement by the government as a step in the right direction, but there is much more to do to ensure every child in New Zealand gets the best start in life.”
For over a century Plunket has supported New Zealand parents to nurture healthy, happy kiwi babies.
Plunket is a not-for-profit organisation and is New Zealand’s largest provider of services to support the health and development of children under five.
Plunket is dedicated to working with parents and communities to ensure that New Zealand children get the best start in life. Plunket’s services help families nationwide, through over 300 branches, mobile clinics and a free phone service PlunketLine, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (0800 933 922).
Plunket services are available free to families in New Zealand with children aged 0 to 5. As registered nurses with a postgraduate qualification, Plunket nurses are able to offer high standards of expertise and a range of services to families.
For more information visit plunket.org.nz.
About BNZ – Principal Sponsor
Bank of New Zealand is proud to work hand in hand with Plunket to bring young New Zealand families support when they need it most.
BNZ is proud to have been a part of New Zealand since 1861 and looks forward to supporting another organisation that has been integral to our country's upbringing.