An inclusive economic recovery begins by ensuring our whānau and communities are safe and well
We need to ensure New Zealanders are safe and well, supporting their basic wellbeing needs. This is important but it will also ensure that they can contribute to, and benefit from, our economic recovery.
At a simple level, this means New Zealanders need to have what is essential to get on with their lives. They need reliable and affordable healthcare, support to adapt to new employment opportunities, reliable and adequate incomes, and safe places to call home. These things are true for all of us but especially for the most vulnerable.
For these reasons we are putting a strong emphasis on supporting core public services, like health and education, which we know will make a difference to the wellbeing of New Zealanders. For example, we are providing $2.7 billion to District Health Boards to continue delivering essential health services throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, $200 million to enable PHARMAC to widen access to existing medicines or invest in new ones, and $301 million for funding rate increases to enable early learning, schools and tertiary providers to continue providing quality education.
We are committing $170 million to help certificated teachers in education and care centres continue to move towards pay parity with their equivalents in kindergartens. This is one of the ways we can make sure we are treating our teachers fairly and means that teachers with the same qualifications carrying out the same work get paid equally. This will help increase retention and lead to more consistency and secure relationships with the children at the heart of our education system.
We are also taking a practical approach to keeping people safe and well in their homes, through expanding the reach and impact of the Healthy Homes initiative. This supports low-income families and whānau to live in warm, dry and healthy homes, reducing the negative health and housing impacts associated with living in damp and cold homes.
We also need to ensure vulnerable people are part of our economic recovery. A specific focus of this Budget is supporting New Zealanders on low incomes. One of the ways we are doing this is through initiatives such as the Training Incentive Allowance, which will support eligible participants to achieve higher levels of educational attainment, which can help to improve participants' wellbeing and income over time.
On top of this, to tackle inequality and child poverty we are lifting weekly main benefit rates by between $32 and $55 per adult, to bring these rates in line with a key recommendation of the WEAG and provide an additional boost to families with children. Increasing the support provided to low-income households recognises that many families and whānau still face financial barriers that make life tough and hold them back from a better future. In addition, lifting main benefit rates also helps to stimulate and strengthen the economic recovery by directly increasing the amount of spending in the economy.
We are also continuing to provide practical help to meet basic needs of children through funding for initiatives that, among other things: continue to support up to 36,000 school children with five nutritious meals each week through the KickStart breakfast programme; provide additional Out-of-School Care and Recreation service places to enable approximately 900 low-income parents to remain or transition into employment, training and education; and continue the Government's contribution to KidsCan for the provision of 17,500 warm, waterproof raincoats per year to school-aged children.
Taking a regional focus can also help ensure that vulnerable communities aren't left behind. Initiatives like expanding the Just Transitions programme, the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund, and the recently announced Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan, ensure our economic recovery from COVID-19 is truly inclusive. Vulnerable communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, so we need to make sure that we support them and their livelihoods.