Cost of living crisis: Green Party calling for universal $110 weekly payment for families with toddlers

The Green Party is demanding a boost in welfare payments nationwide to combat the cost of living crisis. 

In an open letter to Child Poverty Reduction Minister Jacinda Ardern and Social Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni​, the Green Party has called on the Government to revamp support credits in Working for Families. 

Greens co-leader James Shaw told AM Early on Thursday to beat the post-COVID-19 economic challenges, the Government must simplify the Family Support Credit and increase it to $210 for the first child and $133 for each additional child.

They also want to make the Best Start Tax Credit universal for people with children under three years old and increase it to $110 per week, up from the current $65.  

Labour introduced its Best Start payment in 2018, which gave $60 a week to every family earning under $79,000 a year with a child under the age of 12 months. The payments would continue until the child turned three. 

Since the payment started, it has increased to $65 per week.  

Shaw said campaigning for the country's most vulnerable has never been more important.

"People who aren't struggling, you can recoup through the tax system, but we know through other parts of our welfare system if you do make a payment universal, such as we do with superannuation, it does ensure you don't have people who are falling through the cracks," Shaw told AM Early fill-in host Oriini Kaipara. 

"The current level is really low, it hasn't moved in some time and of course, we have seen costs rise and those kinds of cost increases do particularly hurt low-income families because the basket of goods they spend their money on are things they don't have a lot of flexibility over. 

"So it's things like energy, transport, fuel, food and so on. Those kinds of take up pretty much the entire pay packet, so those are things where costs have increased." 

Shaw said the current Working For Families system is seeing people "slip through the cracks" and is calling on the Government to make it universal. 

"Essentially you've got a situation at the moment which is really quite complex and it does mean that you've got families who are kind of slipping through the cracks.

"We know that the cost of living crisis is hurting a lot of low-income families and the current system isn't serving them. So one of the proposals that we've got is that we should expand coverage and make it more universal." 

The Greens' proposal would cost about $3 billion and the party's child poverty spokesperson Jan Logie​ said it would be worth it in the long run.

Watch the full interview with James Shaw above.