By Laura McQuillan
Hungry kids will have to wait a few weeks longer to find out what new plans the government has in store for them, with anticipated measures to tackle child poverty noticeably absent from the Budget.
Finance Minister Bill English delivered his fifth Budget today, with a heavy focus on housing - including a trial warrant of fitness programme for rentals and $100 million for a new home insulation programme for communities in the most need.
The government is under pressure to introduce a food in schools programme, which was one of the recommendations from an expert advisory group on child poverty.
However, the government's response to those recommendations is still some weeks away, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said on Thursday.
Instead, the government unveiled new plans to get beneficiaries off welfare, and to improve access to healthy housing.
Social security and welfare is allocated a total of $23.6 billion in 2013/14, a $600m increase on last year's allocation.
Of that, $188.6m will be spent on continuing welfare reforms, including 354 new Work and Income staff who will work "more intensively" with beneficiaries who can work and are at risk of long-term dependence - including one-on-one case management for those with a health condition or disability.
The government has created a new incentive to find work: $16.4m in bonuses for those on the new sole parent support and supported living payments, who will retain some of their benefit for the first few weeks after starting a job.
Other announcements targeted at low-earners include:
- partnering with a whiteware company so beneficiaries can use existing repayable grants from Work and Income to buy new whiteware under warranty
- extending income-related rent subsidies to non-government community housing providers
- reviewable tenancies for all Housing New Zealand tenants, who will be moved out of state housing when their situation improves to make way for others in need
- an extra $35m over four years to support kin and grandparents caring for children.
source: newshub archive