Otaki MP Nathan Guy has welcomed Budget 2014, particularly the boost to paid parental leave and free doctors' visits for under-13s.
Paid parental leave will be extended by four weeks – starting with a two-week extension from 1 April 2015, and another two weeks from 1 April 2016. The eligibility of paid parental leave will also be expanded to include caregivers other than parents (for example, permanent guardians), and to extend payments to people in less-regular work or who recently changed jobs.
"A growing economy means the Government can invest in a $500 million package for children and families. This will make a real difference for local families in Kapiti and Horowhenua," Mr Guy says.
The Budget includes:
$42 million to increase the parental tax credit from $150 a week to $220 a week, and increase the entitlement from eight weeks to 10 weeks, from 1 April 2015.
$90 million to provide free GP visits and free prescriptions for children aged under 13, starting on 1 July 2015.
An additional $156 million to help early childhood education centres to remain accessible and affordable, meet demand pressures and increase participation towards the Government's 98 per cent target.
$33 million in 2014/15 to help vulnerable children, including eight new children's teams around the country to identify and work with at-risk children and their families, to screen people who work with children, and to support children in care.
"I'm also very pleased to see $110 million of new money over the next four years to provide even more elective surgery, including hip and knee replacements.
"Overall, New Zealand's public health services budget will reach a record $15.6 billion next year.
"ACC is on track to provide further levy reductions. Depending on the outcome of public consultation, the average levy for a private motor vehicle could fall by around $130 a year from July 2015.
"It's great to see the Government's accounts back into surplus next year. This is a huge achievement, given the challenges we've faced with a global recession and major earthquakes in Christchurch," says Mr Guy.