Benefit rates to increase in a bid to reduce poverty

By Jessica Tyson

The government will increase benefit levels in a bid to lift up to 33,000 children out of poverty.

All benefit rates will increase by $20 a week from July 1 this year. A second increase will occur on  April 1 next year. Families and whānau with children will also receive a further $15 per adult per week.

In total, 109,000 whānau with children will be, on average, $175 a week better off.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the announcement will lift main benefit rates so low-income New Zealand families and whānau and individuals have more money to meet their living costs and their children’s needs.

“These investments mean that by April 1, 2022, 109,000 families and whānau with children will be, on average, better off by $40 per week and 263,000 individuals and couples without children better off by $42 per week. This includes 134,000 Māori and 33,000 Pacific peoples.”

On April 1 2022, student allowance and student loan for living costs will also increase by $25 per person a week.

Sepuloni says the increase in benefit levels sit alongside a raft of incentives to support people into training and work, including increasing support for child care, and reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson tied the benefit boosts to the 30-year anniversary of the "Mother Of All Budgets" - National's 1991 Ruth Richardson budget that slashed benefits - saying he was attempting to undo the "damage" from that budget.

The changes will bring core benefit levels to the well-above the rates recommended by the Government's Welfare Expert Advisory Group in 2019 by 2022, although many of the other recommendations from that report remain untouched.