Greens want to boost benefits by 20 percent

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has launched an ambitious $1.4b plan to lift hundreds of thousands of Kiwis out of poverty.

It includes a big overhaul of social welfare, with all benefit payments increasing by 20 percent and all sanctions and obligations for beneficiaries removed.

It means those receiving welfare won't have their benefits cut if they don't search for jobs or fail drug tests, or if mothers don't name the father of their child.

Working for Families also gets beefed up under the policy, with weekly payments increasing by at least $72. However, the threshold of eligibility won't be changed.

Ms Turei has also made the bold move of introducing a new top tax bracket of 40 percent, which kicks in for all income over $150,000.

The tax rate in the lowest bracket, presently 10.5 percent, will reduce to 9 percent.

Minimum wage will also go up immediately by $2, from $15.75 to $17.75.

How much more will people get?

  • Sole parent on a benefit, with two school-age kids: $179.62 extra per week 
  • Single person on JobSeeker benefit: $42.20 extra per week
  • Two parents on JobSeeker benefit, with three kids: $207.46 extra per week
  • Two parents, one earning $70k salary, with two kids: $87.85 extra per week 

Metiria's admission

Metiria Turei made an astonishing admission while announcing the package: she lied to WINZ when she was a beneficiary.

She was a single mum in 1993 and lied to WINZ about her living conditions so her accommodation payment wouldn't be reduced. She was living with flatmates at the time, but told Work and Income she was living alone so her payment would be higher.

Ms Turei says she could have been charged with fraud, but risked it so she could make ends meet for her and her daughter, Piu.