What else are we doing to support children in poverty in Budget 2022?
Improving child wellbeing is bigger than just meeting targets. It's about providing the right kinds of support so children can achieve their potential. Some initiatives may not affect the headline numbers on the primary measures but will still make a material difference to the lives of families, whānau, and children living in poverty. Some initiatives can help reduce the depth and severity of poverty itself as well as the long-term drivers of socio-economic disadvantage. Other initiatives can help by mitigating the consequences of poverty and disadvantage and improving the wellbeing of children and young people.
Changes to support parents to enter and remain in employment
Supporting parents into sustainable and adequately paid employment, where suitable and appropriate, will help children living in poverty by lifting family and whānau incomes.
- We're providing a further increase in funding for Mana in Mahi, adding an extra 150 places to the 2022 programme, to support people into long-term employment.
- We're also continuing our support for the Māori Trades and Training Fund to help Māori entities delivering training and employment for Māori. This initiative will provide additional resourcing for the fund, which is a contestable, grant-based fund that supports by-Māori, for-Māori employment-based training programmes.
- We are extending the end date of the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative from August 2022 to December 2023. This initiative will support parents into employment, to upskill and retain employment in industries looking to strengthen their pipeline of skilled workforces.
- We're providing funding over four years for driver licence support for 64,000 people. It will support people most disadvantaged by barriers to accessing driver licences to progress through the driver licensing system by providing lessons with wrap around supports. This will increase access to jobs (70 percent require licences) and services.
Changes to support people to remain safe and well in their homes
- Living in a safe, warm, dry home is essential to children's wellbeing. In addition to its impact on immediate wellbeing, living in low quality housing makes children more likely to experience poor health, including respiratory illnesses and infections. There is a strong relationship between poor quality housing and poverty. This is why, as part of our cost of living package, we're extending the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme, delivering insulation and heating retrofits for low-income homeowners.
- Housing is one of the most significant costs that families and whānau face. Initiatives that increase the supply of housing and reduce housing costs are therefore critical to supporting families and whānau to make ends meet. That's why we're establishing the Affordable Housing Fund to support the development of affordable homes for low-to-middle income families and whānau.
- We are helping low-income New Zealanders to access and retain private rentals. By improving the adequacy of Housing Support Products and making them more transparent and easier to understand we are advancing longer term goals of reducing homelessness and pressure on public and transitional housing.
- In the meantime, we are ensuring everyone can have a roof over their head by investing over $1 billion in public and transitional housing.
Changes to ensure children have the basic essentials
- We know that families and whānau will sometimes struggle to cover unexpected or essential one‑off costs. This is why we've permanently increased the income thresholds for access to Hardship Assistance Grants provided by the Ministry for Social Development. This will come into effect from 1 July 2022 and indexes the limits to average wage growth from 1 April 2023. This increase enables wider access to this hardship support for working New Zealanders.
- To help improve oral health and wider health outcomes we have increased Dental Special Needs Grants from $300 to $1,000. Alongside increasing the level of the grant, individuals can apply for multiple grants in a 52-week period and access grants for treatment that does not arise from an emergency; instead, necessary dental treatment will be covered.
- We are helping families and whānau better manage their money and avoid debt by continuing investment in Building Financial Capability services. Improving financial capability of individuals and whānau reduces the risk of financial difficulties thereby ensuring children have their basic needs met.
- We know that low-income families and whānau are feeling the burden of the rising cost of living which is why we have invested in initiatives to help reduce transport costs. We initially cut 25 cents a litre off fuel excise duties and cut public transport fares in half, for three months. We have further extended both measures for another two months. To acknowledge the ongoing pressures faced by low-income households, we are introducing a 50 percent public transport fare discount for Community Service Card holders indefinitely.
Changes in the health sector to support parents and help children get the best start in life
- For some children in New Zealand, low income can be a barrier to accessing primary health care services. To help combat this we're extending School-based Health Services for high school students. This will expand services into activity centres, and increase the service delivery level in kura kaupapa, contributing to improved health equity for high-needs students and helping prevent the development of more serious mental and physical health conditions among youth.
- We're continuing to fund the enhanced support pilots for Well Child Tamariki Ora, providing intensive, relationship-based, wrap around support to young parents and their whānau commencing in pregnancy encompassing support with health, housing, employment, and mental wellbeing.
- We are continuing to invest in services to support child and young adult mental health. To support children and young parents to get the holistic support they need we have continued and expanded Mana Ake, which ensures primary and intermediate school-aged children receive mental wellbeing support. Further funding for Piki means young adults in the Greater Wellington region can receive free therapy and support. Meanwhile, a 40 percent increase for the Ministry of Youth Development's funded services supports the sustainability of youth workers and enables a more intensive intervention for our most at risk youth. By investing in the mental health of our tamariki and rangatahi early, we can help break the cycle of inter-generational disadvantage and improve wellbeing outcomes over a lifetime.
Changes to support families and children with disabilities
- Children and families and whānau with disabilities often face worse wellbeing outcomes. That's why we have invested in the new Ministry for Disabled People which will provide leadership, stewardship, coordination of the cross-government disability system, which will in turn drive improved outcomes for disabled people.
- We are also transforming the disability system beginning with a regional rollout of the Enabling Good Lives approach. Giving disabled families/whānau and children greater choice and control over the supports they receives leads to better wellbeing outcomes, and we have committed to progressing towards a national roll out of the Enabling Good Lives approach.