Labour targets new parents with ‘best start’ package

NZ Herald 27 January 2014
Labour leader David Cunliffe has set out a policy to give most parents of new born babies a payment of $60 a week until that baby turns one, while those on middle and lower incomes will continue to receive the payment until the child turns three.

In his State of the Nation address, Mr Cunliffe also set out a raft of other measures for parents of young children, including free antenatal classes for all first time mothers, and extending early childhood education subsidies from 20 free hours a week to 25 hours.

Paid parental leave will also be extended from 14 to 26 weeks – a feature which was already Labour Party policy.

The total package is expected to cost $147 million in its first year, 2015-2016, rising to $528 million by 2018/19. The child payments have been costed at $151 million in the first full year they apply of 2016/17, rising to $272 million by 2018/19.

Dubbed Best Start, the first year payments will apply for those with household incomes of less than $150,000 a year, which Labour estimates will be about 59,000 households or 95 per cent of children aged under one. The longer term payments for those on lower incomes would cover about 56 per cent of one and two year olds. It will apply to children born after April1 2016, if Labour forms the next Government.