Government ditches school donations, lifts benefits to prove its focus on children

The Prime Minister's made children a focus of her Government, and this budget has delivered two main packages aimed at them.

The first gives decile one to seven schools the option of ditching school donations and getting a Government pay out of $150 per student instead.

The second is a lift to benefits - although the increase doesn't go anywhere near what the Government's own working group called for.

The parents at Wellington's decile five Newtown School are pleased as punch about an end to school donations.

A Government payment of $150 per student will be on offer for schools at deciles one to seven - benefiting up to 494,000 students.

Beneficiaries and their children also get a boost.

"It's extra food in the cupboard every dollar helps," said beneficiary Kristina Tupou.

The Government's announced it will link benefits to the average wage, so as Kiwi workers' pay goes up, benefits will too.

By indexing benefits to wages, support will go up by between $10 and $17 a week by 2023.

"The old way of doing things has left too many people behind," said Grant Robertson.

The increase is a far cry from the recommendations of the Government's welfare working group.

It wanted benefits urgently increased by up to 47 percent. 

That's not happening this time around.

"We don't want to have to get into the one off big bolt increases we saw the previous Government have to do," said Robertson.

The one-off increase to benefits under the previous Government was a $25 dollar boost in 2015.

Indexing benefits to the average wage will mean steadier increases over time but welfare groups are already putting pressure on the Government to urgently increase core benefits as well.