Jacinda Ardern says Working for Families up for review in effort to reduce child poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government will be reviewing Working for Families tax credits as its next step in reducing child poverty.

More than 30,000 children will be lifted out of poverty as a result of budget investments unveiled last week, but 190,000 will remain there.

Ardern said it was flagged in the Budget that more work would be done on the Working for Families package which has now been in place for more than a decade and has made a significant impact on child poverty.

"What we want to look at is whether or not we are still achieving that same level of effectiveness, its interaction with different parts of the benefit system given we've now introduced the Best Start payment for the zero to three years, we have the winter energy payment, we've made changes to the way it's effecting and reaching people."

Asked whether the Government should borrow more to alleviate child poverty given current low interest rates, Ardern said although the Government has been borrowing as part of its COVID response and recovery, it was still exercising caution in terms of the amount of debt, as well as the time period during which it has to start paying debt back.

"The reason we are still being cautious is because interest rates, there will likely be some volatility in future years and also New Zealand is a country that has to be careful in its management of debt given we're prone to natural disasters and the economic shocks associated with that."

Ardern said the Government also wants to look at the accommodation supplement to see whether there are better ways to help people with the cost of accommodation.

Ardern said past increases to social welfare payments have shown that benefit increases do not lead to rent increases, but the Government will be watching the situation.

"The two most recent examples we can look to was the main benefit increase as a response to COVID - nothing there that suggests that rent increases were anything outside of what would be considered normal annual rent increases.

"The next best place we could look is the Working for Families increases which were much more substantial in roughly 2005, there was no discernible impact on rents from those changes."

Ardern said the Government has already reduced the number of allowable rent increases to one per year.

She said Statistics NZ data shows that rent increases are sitting at around 3 percent and although there has been a considerable growth in house prices that has not necessarily flowed onto to the rental market.

Waikato DHB cyber attack

In the wake of the cyber attack which has crippled Waikato District Health Board's systems, Ardern said these types of attacks will become more prevalent in both the public and private sectors.

"We have to lift the capability we have and the precautions we take as a nation against cyber attacks and in response to cyber security issues.

"We are seeing increasing activity internationally, it was only recently that I believe in Ireland we saw a similar attack. This is not going to decrease in frequency."

Ardern said in the case of Waikato DHB the Government is providing support but does not want to give too details because that could open systems up to greater vulnerabilities.

"Obviously for central Government agencies or those that we consider to be of national significance they do get the support of the GCSB, but we do have a wider network as well where we're providing support via the GCSB to other operators."


The Supreme Court in Samoa on Sunday declared the Head of State, Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aleto'a Sualauvi II, acted unlawfully on Saturday in suspending Parliament.

However, the Speaker of Parliament has disregarded the Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for the Legislative Assembly to convene tomorrow.

Ardern said New Zealand's position is to support Samoa's institutions and democracy and to call on others to uphold that institutions and democracy.

"We have faith in Samoa's democracy and in their institutions and you'll see that the judiciary here playing a very strong role via the Supreme Court in sharing their view on the implications of the election and the way it needs to be upheld."