Government to fund driver licences for those on youth benefits

The Government has announced it will fund the costs of getting a driver licence for young people on youth benefits under a new scheme. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Wednesday, explaining how driver licences are a "vital tool" and "open the door to education and jobs". 

"The Coalition Government knows some young people don't have a car to learn in, identification documents or the support of family and friends to get their driver licence. This scheme fixes that," she said.

The scheme will begin on June 1, with a $5 million investment from the New Zealand Transport Agency Community Road Safety Fund and $250,000 from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). 

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the scheme will provide mobility to young people. She said youth obtaining their licence is a "first step to independence" and "development as responsible adults". 

MSD's Youth Service will deliver the scheme in partnership with community providers around the country for young people receiving the Youth Payment, Young Parent Payment or those in Oranga Tamariki care. 

The scheme will cover the costs such as obtaining a birth certificate for identification, professional driving lessons and test fees. 

The Prime Minister said estimates suggest 2500 young people are expected to get their restricted licence through the scheme, "helping them move on into jobs". 

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said helping young people to get their licence will "instil safe driving habits" and could help to "reduce harm on our roads".

"Over the last five years, young drivers who have never held a driver licence were involved in 165 fatal or serious injury crashes," she said. 

"Helping this group of drivers through the restricted driver licensing process will make the roads safer for everyone and reduce the likelihood of crashes."

The Prime Minister was in Porirua, Wellington, on Wednesday to officially launch the scheme. 


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