Warmer, drier, healthier, and safer homes
Well over 300,000 homes have been insulated under our Warm Up New Zealand insulation and clean heating programme and our commitment to insulate Housing NZ properties. This has reduced power bills and led to warmer, drier, and healthier living conditions for families. We’re providing more funding to insulate rental houses with low-income tenants with high health needs and to prevent illnesses in young children. We’re also requiring all rental properties to have smoke alarms and insulation installed.
HomeStart grants for first-home buyers
National values home ownership – it brings security to families and enhances communities. That’s why we have a wide programme of work to improve housing supply and affordability. This includes our $435 million HomeStart programme to help around 90,000 people into their first home over five years. First-home buyers can now withdraw all of their KiwiSaver savings, except for the $1,000 kick-start, and couples can also apply for a government grant of up to $20,000 to put towards buying their first home. Some conditions apply.
Better educating our children
Ensuring every child gets a great education is one of the most important things we can do. We’ve more than doubled early childhood education investment because regular participation dramatically increases a child’s chance of succeeding. We’ve focused on lifting achievement and ensuring more children get the qualifications they need. We’re also investing $359 million to keep the best teachers in classrooms and share leadership and expertise across schools.
National believes parents shouldn’t be put off seeking medical assistance for their children due to cost. So we’ve introduced free GP visits and prescriptions for all children under 13 as well as free after hours services – that’s benefitting around 780,000 children and their families. We’re also providing a free health and development check for all four-year-olds before they start school, with around 58,000 children benefitting from this service over the past year.
Around 93 per cent of 8-month-olds are fully immunised, which is up from 82 per cent four years ago. This means thousands more babies are being protected from potentially lifethreatening illnesses. National is also making good progress on tackling rheumatic fever.
More paid parental leave
National has increased paid parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks and made it available to more people. We’ve also increased the parental tax credit from a maximum of $150 a week to $220 a week, and extended it from eight to 10 weeks. Increasing the length of paid parental leave makes it easier for parents to take more time off work to spend with their new baby.
Breakfasts in schools
We’ve partnered with Sanitarium and Fonterra to offer free breakfasts during the school week in all primary and secondary schools that want it. This is an important part of our plan to improve the health and wellbeing of children. More than 7 million breakfasts have been served since the Government became involved.
More jobs and higher incomes
More than 200,000 new jobs have been created over the past three years – that’s around 180 new jobs a day – and a further 170,000 new jobs are forecast by 2020. Average wages have increased by around 25 per cent since we came into government – around double the rate of inflation. The average wage is expected to increase to $63,000 by 2020 – $16,000 more a year than when we came into government. We’ve increased NZ Super, benefits and the minimum wage every year we’ve been in government.
Helping children living in hardship
For most of New Zealand’s poorest families, the best way to improve their lives is through full-time work. That’s why we have an unrelenting focus on helping people into work. That focus is producing results – there are now around 40,000 fewer children living in benefit-dependent households. We’ve increased incomes for low-income families by up to $25 a week. We’re also working on overhauling the childcare and protection system to ensure the most at-risk children get the protection and opportunities they deserve.
Keeping our communities safer
We’re investing $300 million more into Police to help their continued drive to reduce crime. Total crime is down 16 per cent on five years ago – that’s 53,000 fewer crimes - and youth crime is down 40 per cent. We’ve put 600 more Police on the beat since we took office. We’ve increased frontline policing by half a million hours a year by investing in technology - that’s equivalent to around 350 more Police. We’re also introducing a child sex offender register to better identify and manage child sex offenders in the community.
Putting more money in your pocket
As well as low cost of living increases, we’ve put $2 billion a year back into New Zealanders’ pockets through lower ACC levies since 2012. From 1 July 2016, the average motor vehicle levy will be around $130 a year, a $200 a year saving for vehicle owners since 2014. Households, businesses, employers, and the self-employed are paying lower levies, which means New Zealand families are better off.