Families with young children and pensioners struggling with high winter energy bills would be the main beneficiaries of three election policies announced by Labour leader Andrew Little.
The flagship policy is what Labour is calling its Best Start scheme which would pay families $60 a week for every child under three.
“Nearly 60,000 families a year will be eligible for a $60 a week payment per baby,” Little said when launching the scheme.
“Families on low and middle incomes will be able to continue to receive the Best Start payment until their child turns three.
“This will help our families give their children the best start in life.”
Labour is also promising to beef up the Working for Families subsidy which could give families on low and middle incomes a boost of up to $48 extra a week.
Pensioners and beneficiaries are also in line for some election year goodies, with Labour saying it would introduce a Winter Energy Payment of up $700 a year for superannuitants and beneficiaries.
This would be $700 a year for childless couples and parents with children living at home, or $450 a year for single people, with the payments made in five monthly instalments from May to September.
“I have met retirees and solo mums who have told me that they can’t afford the power bills they face in winter, so they’re forced to turn the heaters off,” Little said.
“That makes them cold, it makes them sick.
“It’s time for a fresh approach to fix this.”
Little also made it clear that the new initiatives would come at the expense of future tax cuts.
“Labour’s priority is investing in the services Kiwis need and boosting the incomes of low and middle income families,” he said.
“National’s priority after nine years is an election tax bribe aimed at those at the top.”
“At a time when we have crises in mental health and housing, now is not the time for tax cuts,” he said.
Here’s Labour’s announcements:
Labour prioritises families and public services
Labour’s Families Package delivers a bigger income boost to more than 70 per cent of families with children than Budget 2017. By not spending $1.5 billion a year on tax cuts, Labour is able to do more for lower and middle income families and people in need, while investing in the priorities Kiwi families care about: housing, health, education and infrastructure, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.
“This election there’s a clear choice. Labour’s priority is investing in the services Kiwis need and boosting the incomes of low and middle income families. National’s priority after nine years is an election tax bribe aimed at those at the top. At a time when we have crises in mental health and housing, now is not the time for tax cuts.
“I laid out my priorities in my first Labour Conference speech, where I committed to reducing child poverty and inequality. This package delivers on that promise.
“Labour’s Families Package is carefully designed to target low and middle income families. Every family receiving Working for Families currently will get more with Labour, and 30,000 more families will start to receive payments. Families on middle incomes will receive up to $48 a week more in Working for Families with Labour’s package than under National, plus Best Start payments of $60 a week for children under three.
“Labour will create a Best Start payment for families with babies and toddlers, because every Kiwi kid deserves the best start in life. Nearly 60,000 families a year will be eligible for a $60 a week payment per baby. Families on low and middle incomes will be able to continue to receive the Best Start payment until their child turns three. This will help our families give their children the best start in life.
“The new Winter Energy Payment will help one million New Zealanders keep warm in winter. Together with Labour’s Healthy Homes Guarantee for rentals and new grants for insulation and heating upgrades, the Winter Energy Payment will help thousands of Kiwis avoid getting sick in the colder months. Currently, 1,600 people a year die due to cold and damp housing. These policies will keep many people out of hospital and save lives.
“In total, more than 70 per cent of families with children will receive more from Labour’s package than National’s and one million Kiwis will benefit from the Winter Energy Payment.
“By saving $1.5 billion a year from National’s tax cuts, we have freed up funding for a targeted package that delivers more to families with kids and people in need, and costs less than $900 million a year. This leaves more than $2 billion over four years for Labour to invest in housing, health, education, and infrastructure.
“National showed their priorities with tax changes that deliver $400m to the top 10 per cent of income earners, more than the bottom 60 per cent get. Bill English and I don’t need a $1000 tax cut; not when it means that money isn’t available to restore the social foundations of our country.
“This fresh approach will allow us to make the investments Kiwis want in housing, health, education and infrastructure,” says Andrew Little.
Labour helps older New Zealanders and low income families with winter heating bills
Labour will further boost its commitment to warm, healthy housing with a Winter Energy Payment for superannuitants and people receiving main benefits, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.
“Everyone deserves a warm, healthy home to live in. But that’s not the reality for many people today. Too many of our houses are poorly insulated, damp, draughty, and unheated. Around1600 New Zealanders die each year because of cold housing – that’s four times the road toll. It’s time for a fresh approach to fix this.
“Labour will set standards to ensure rentals are fit to live in; we’ll use the savings from abolishing the speculators’ tax loophole to fund grants for families to install insulation and heating; and we’ll help older New Zealanders and low income families heat their homes in winter with the Winter Energy Payment.
“I have met retirees and solo mums who have told me that they can’t afford the power bills they face in winter, so they’re forced to leave heaters off. That makes them cold; it makes them sick. It puts people in hospital and costs lives.
“The AUT/HRV survey showing four out of 10 New Zealanders are turning off heaters to avoid high winter power bills shows there’s a real need for help.
“The Winter Energy Payment will be $700 for couples and parents with kids at home, and $450 for single people. Around one million people will benefit. The payment will be made in monthly instalments from May to September. With Labour’s fresh approach, our homes will be warmer, healthier places to live.
“The Winter Energy Payment forms part of Labour’s Families Package that we will unveil on Tuesday. Our plan shows how Labour will target low and middle income families and people in need, and tackle the crises in health and housing. In contrast, National would rather splurge on an election year tax bribe that goes disproportionately to the well-off.
“After nine years, now is the time to deal with the challenges we face in housing, health and education and help those in real need. Labour will get the balance right,” says Andrew Little.