Laying the foundations for a better future
Improving child wellbeing
Investing in a good start in life for our children is one of the most important ways we can support the long-term wellbeing of New Zealanders. This is part of our commitment to laying strong foundations for our future. As a Government, we have made improving child wellbeing and reducing child poverty one of our overarching policy goals, as well as a wellbeing objective guiding Budget investment.
Budget 2021 provides a major boost in income support for families and whānau, alongside funding for key support services, to improve the lives of those most vulnerable in our community, our children. In Budget 2021, 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.
This investment helps make progress towards our child poverty reduction targets and to help families and whānau meet their basic needs. In addition, increasing the support provided to low-income households also helps to stimulate and strengthen our recovery from the effects of COVID-19 by directly increasing spending in the economy.
In addition to significantly increasing income support, we are investing:
- $527 million for an extension to the Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches Programme
- $57 million to increase financial assistance for caregivers
- $15 million to build a strong foundation for change by enabling faster resolution of disputes to reduce the time children will spend in the family justice system
- $10 million to maintain SmartStart and Life Events, which provides a central location for parents and caregivers to access information and support related to pregnancy and early stages of childhood development.
Further detail on initiatives that support child wellbeing and reduce child poverty, as well as information about our progress towards meeting our child poverty reduction targets, can be found in the Child Poverty Report on pages 34 to 35.
Quality education helps young New Zealanders to build a strong foundation to succeed and thrive in life. In the last term, the Government laid out a series of reforms that will reduce inequity in our education system and improve educational outcomes.
Budget 2021 supports our Education Reform Programme, including investing:
- $185 million operating and $54 million capital to support implementation of the reforms of the Tomorrow's Schools system that will provide frontline support closer to schools and create a more networked system that is responsive to learners' needs
- $18 million operating and $5 million capital for investment in infrastructure that will support replacing the current decile system with the Equity Index that will better target resources towards schools facing the greatest socioeconomic challenges.