One of the hallmarks of the National Party has been our tireless belief in the value of hard work, and people getting ahead and leading better lives under their own steam instead.
We’re relentlessly ambitious for Kiwis and their families. It’s not just wanting people to earn more, provide more for their families and have the same choices as many others, it’s also about enabling people to be in control of their own lives.
Over the last few years, the National Government has worked hard to ensure more people are able to take up the opportunities a growing economy presents. Tens of thousands more are in work and higher paying jobs, and taxpayers can be sure their investment in the welfare system is being well managed.
Our efforts are delivering results. The latest benefit numbers show the proportion of the population on a main benefit is the lowest it’s been in twenty years.
This is an outstanding result, made possible by the sense of optimism in this country as the economy continues to strengthen, businesses grow and employ more people, and more New Zealanders feel like this is a country where they can get ahead.
Those receiving Sole Parent Support had the largest drop in the last 12 months, falling by 6.3 per cent, and there are now over 50,000 fewer children living in benefit dependent homes, helping to break the cycle of dependency.
Increasing the amount of support to directly target people on benefits to get back into work has seen nearly 50,000 sole parents receive extra advice and guidance on getting into the workforce.
While supporting vulnerable people here and now is vital, planning for the future is something we take seriously too.
National understands how important it is to be forward-thinking and resilient in the face of a changing world and our programme of social investment is addressing the problems of tomorrow, today.
While an unstable coalition of Labour and the Greens prefer to throw money at issues rather than address them, we are more focused on results.
This is fundamentally about tackling the root causes of welfare dependence, like a lack of education, to ensure fewer children are growing up in vulnerable households. It’s something we’re unashamedly investing in.
Our new PM, Bill English, and his united team will be building on the successes of the last few years, with a clear and strong plan to make Kiwis better off at work and at home, with the means to achieve it.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the number of people receiving a main benefit has continued to fall, with the proportion of the population on a main benefit (9.6 per cent) the lowest it’s been in a March quarter since 1997.
“At the end of the quarter there were 278,236 people on a main benefit, a decrease of 1,655 (0.6 per cent) compared to last year,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Those receiving Sole Parent Support had the largest drop in the last 12 months, falling by 4,175 (6.3 per cent).
“Budget 2015 increased the amount of places for work-focused case management meaning we now have nearly 50,000 sole parents receiving extra advice and guidance. It’s great to see this targeted support is helping more families into independence.
“We’ve also seen the number of sole parents with part-time work obligations increase by 44.4 per cent as a result of the $790 million Child Hardship Package that came into effect on 1 April 2016.
“This package set new requirements for sole parents and partners of beneficiaries to look for part-time work of 20 hours a week when their youngest child turns 3, instead of 5.
“The number of young people receiving Youth Payment/Young Parent Payment combined increased by 536 (62.5 per cent) compared to last year due to the Youth Service being extended in 2016 to include 19 year old sole parents.
“This means 19 year old parents continue to receive Young Parent Payment instead of transferring to Sole Parent Support, alongside receiving wraparound support to help them into training and education and to prepare for work.
“We know that supporting parents, particularly when they’re young, into work helps break the cycle of welfare dependence, ensures better life outcomes for both them and their children and reduces the long-term cost to the taxpayer.”
The latest benefit data is available at https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/index.html
Inland Revenue will waive use of money interest on late tax payments when flooding has prevented people from paying on time, say Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley and Revenue Minister Judith Collins.
“In the aftermath of the Edgecumbe and Bay of Plenty floods businesses in affected areas have enough to deal with without having to worry about their tax obligations at the same time,” Mrs Tolley says.
“Inland Revenue will waive use of money interest on late tax payments and will cancel late filing and late payment penalties for taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax by the due date because of the recent flooding,” Ms Collins says.
The terminal tax date for the 2016 income year for taxpayers with tax agents was 7 April, and 20 April is a due date for employers.
Inland Revenue has also announced discretions on income equalisation for farmers who are significantly affected by the flooding.
“This will allow people to make late deposits from the 2016 income tax year and to apply for early refunds. This means farmers and fishers can average their taxable income over several years more easily,” Ms Collins says.
An extra $700,000 will be available to further support businesses affected by the flooding in Edgecumbe and the Bay of Plenty, say Minister for Economic Development Simon Bridges and Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley.
“It’s going to be some time before things get back to normal after the flooding which devastated Edgecumbe and the Bay of Plenty,” says Mr Bridges.
“It’s important the Government provides the appropriate support to help people get back on their feet. Cabinet has today agreed to a $700,000 package which will assist around 100 local businesses affected by flooding.
“This additional funding will help businesses in Edgecumbe and the Bay of Plenty stay viable while the massive clean-up continues.”
$200,000 will be available for Rural Assistance payments to help rural families with essential living costs, and an extra $250,000 will assist the Rural Support Trust to help farmers and growers to assess crop damage. An extra $250,000 towards a Disaster Relief Fund will support businesses.
“This funding compliments the Government’s existing support. Over 2,300 Civil Defence payments have been made to help people with food, clothing and bedding - around $550,000 has been paid to date,” says Mrs Tolley
“Other hardship assistance payments are also available and so far 135 payments have been made at a cost of over $19,000. We’ve also provided $500,000 of additional Task Force Green funding to employ people to assist the local Councils with the clean-up.
“Yesterday, the Government activated the Edgecumbe Temporary Accommodation Service which will collect registrations from displaced people who require temporary accommodation, establish what accommodation options are suitable and available, and connect them together.”
The Government continues to monitor the situation and will provide additional support if it is required.
Last week the Government classified the flooding as a medium-scale adverse event. This made extra recovery assistance measures available including recovery coordination and Enhanced Task Force Green teams.
The Government is activating a Temporary Accommodation Service to assist Edgecumbe residents hit by the recent floods, Lead Minister for Edgecumbe, Anne Tolley and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“This service is to help people displaced when the Rangitāiki River broke its banks and flooded the town of Edgecumbe," says Mrs Tolley.
"We are still assessing the damage to know how many homes will need to be replaced and how many repaired but it is clear assistance will be required for a significant number of families for temporary accommodation.”
“The Edgecumbe Temporary Accommodation Service (ETAS) has been activated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to help people affected by the floods," says Dr Smith.
"The ETAS team will collect registrations from displaced people who require temporary accommodation, establish what accommodation options are suitable and available and connect them together. The service has proved very successful in the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes, and the level of damage and displacement justifies us establishing this new service in Edgecumbe.
“I urge anyone who has a current or expected need following the Edgecumbe floods to register their details at www.temporaryaccommodation.mbie.govt.nz Alternatively, call 0800 779 997 to discuss your requirements.
“I would also urge tenants and landlords of rental properties to visit www.tenancy.govt.nz to familiarise themselves with their tenancy rights and obligations following an event like this."
The Temporary Accommodation Service continues to provide support to households in Kaikōura and the surrounding regions following the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. It received 128 registrations from households there. The same team also helped more than 6,500 households affected by the Canterbury earthquakes find temporary accommodation, over 1,100 of which were in Government established villages.
“This is the first step in providing assistance. We are working with Councils and other agencies on exploring options for emergency and temporary housing and the information obtained from this new service will help inform future decisions on the most appropriate support required," says Dr Smith.
Minister for Women Paula Bennett and Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley have announced the Government is providing $50,000 over the next year to assist KidsCan supply schools with sanitary products.
“This funding will provide sanitary products to the schools KidsCan supports. It’s expected that over 16,500 packs will be supplied to around 2,000 girls,” says Mrs Bennett.
“This is a practical way we can support young women who come from families in need. Small initiatives like this can make a big difference, and this is a good example of how we’re continuing to provide support to those in need.”
“MSD supports KidsCan which works with schools throughout New Zealand to supply practical items to around 143,000 young people in need,” says Mrs Tolley.
“KidsCan does a great job helping disadvantaged students achieve better educational outcomes by providing food, socks, shoes and raincoats.
“They also provide health items including nit treatment, nit combs, hand sanitiser, band-aids and tissues, as well as dental care for partner schools.”
KidsCan Charitable Trust is funded by donations, business sponsorship, government support, philanthropic trusts and gaming revenue. It supports 621 schools. Almost half of its revenue is made up of in-kind gifts and donated goods.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has announced details of the independent review into MSD’s individual client level data IT system.
“It’s important clients and providers have confidence that their information is protected and that the Government has a robust IT system,” says Mrs Tolley.
“I have now received a briefing from MSD on what led to last week’s technical issue with the portal.
“It's extremely disappointing that the report appears to raise more questions than answers on the security of the IT system and the governance of the project.
“Murray Jack, a former consultant with Deloitte NZ, has been appointed by MSD to lead an independent review. He will be supported by two IT and privacy specialists from Deloitte NZ and PwC.
“The review got underway yesterday and is due to report back by the end of April.
“The review will consider the circumstances which led to the technical breach, the decisions made on why the portal was used and the security steps taken, as well as the governance and management of the project.”
Notes to editors
Last Tuesday the Minister was advised about a technical issue with the portal where providers submit individual client level data.
While no private information on clients was available, a provider was able to view another provider’s folder. The system was shut down as a result.
To date, 136 providers have been invited to upload client level data into the government shared portal, only 10 providers have uploaded information so far.
Terms of Reference attached.
The Government has today classified the flooding from ex-Cyclone Debbie in the Bay of Plenty as a medium-scale adverse event.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy were in the Bay of Plenty today meeting with primary industry businesses.
“The classification of a medium-scale event makes extra recovery assistance measures available including recovery coordination, increased support through Enhanced Task Force Green teams and Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust, as well as tax flexibility,” says Mrs Tolley.
“The supervised Enhanced Task Force Green teams will be critical to help farmers and individual households with the clean-up.
“Extra financial assistance is available in the form of civil defence payments and over 500 applications have been received so far. Most requests are for personal items like clothing, bedding and food.
“In extreme events, Rural Assistance Payments can be made available to help with rural families’ essential living costs.”
“While the region is still in response mode, it is clear that all primary sectors in the area have been impacted to some extent, with major damage to farm land and infrastructure due to flooding, debris and slips,” says Mr Guy.
”Farmers and growers in the Bay of Plenty are used to managing through large rainfall events and have experienced flooding before, but this is extreme and its effects are still becoming apparent.
“The Whakatane District has significant flooding on the Rangitāiki Plains. There are slips and localised flooding in southern areas of the district, and slips and large areas of silt damage in Taneatua, Galatea, Murapara and Minginui.
“Road closures and cordons across the district add to challenges for our farmers as they have evacuated around 3,500 stock.
"It’s also crunch time for our growers as kiwifruit orchards in the region are at the point of harvest.
“As the Fonterra plant at Edgecumbe is inside the cordon and closed, milk is being diverted to Te Rapa and some farmers are drying off their stock early, or moving stock to unaffected properties to continue milking.
“The Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust has been working alongside Federated Farmers and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) to prioritise people to be visited, and contacting those in the rural communities to identify immediate need.
“MPI is also working with the SPCA, Fire Service, and vets from Massey to locate and house abandoned pets, and to identify and manage pets that have died. So far more than 230 pets have been successfully reunited with their owners which is thanks to the fantastic work of these local rescue teams.”
The Bay of Plenty DHB issued a Boil Water Notice for the Taneatua, Rūātoki and Rangitāiki Plains areas on Saturday. It’s essential dairy farmers also use boiled water for plant and silo cleaning, activate their risk management procedures and talk to their dairy company about their processes under boil water notices.
The Government Helpline (0800 779 997) is operating from 8.00am to 6.00pm.
Local Rural Support Trusts are providing support where it’s needed on 0800 RURAL HELP.
People worried about lost pets should contact the Whakatane Emergency Operations Centre on 0800 306 0500.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says a new IT solution will be developed for the collection of individual client level data from NGOs as the current system is not up to standard.
“Last night I was advised by MSD about a technical issue with the portal where providers submit individual client level data,” says Mrs Tolley.
“No private information on clients was available, however a provider was able to view another provider’s folder. The system was shut down last night as a result. To date, 136 providers have been invited to upload client level data into the DIA shared portal, only 10 providers have uploaded information so far.
“I’ve asked officials for advice on the next steps which will involve using a different IT platform that will be robustly tested.
“It’s vital clients and providers have confidence that their information is being protected. We will work with the Privacy Commissioner and the Government’s Chief Information Officer to ensure we get this right.
“It’s important we have a secure IT system which enables government to access client level data so we can target funding to the services which best help our most vulnerable New Zealanders. We need to be able to understand what services are needed, what is effective, and identify any gaps.
“All New Zealanders would expect that the $330 million we fund in community based social services every year is spent on programmes that get the best results for New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable.”
Minister for Children Anne Tolley and Associate Minister for Children Alfred Ngaro welcome today’s official launch of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai - the independent advocacy service for children and young people in state care.
“VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is an important part of the Government’s overhaul of our care and protection system,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Yesterday the Prime Minister Bill English and I launched the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki which will put children and young people’s needs first, and ensure they have a say in decisions that affect them.
“VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is the first of its kind in New Zealand. There has never been an advocacy service for children and young people who are or have been in care.”
Minister Ngaro is attending today’s launch in Auckland, along with a number of children and young people, caregivers and supporters.
“Young people have expressed a desire for a service like this for many years, and it was a recommendation of the expert panel which advised the Government on the overhaul of care and protection,” says Mr Ngaro.
“Set up in partnership with young people who have experienced care, the government, NGOs and philanthropic sector, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, will provide a strong independent voice from children and young people.
“It will also connect children and young people in care with each other, and help build a positive identity and sense of community.
“VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai is working closely with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki. The service will expand over time, from a website and a team focused on arranging connection events, to phone and online advocacy by late 2017, and a service in the regions from 2018.”
The Government has funded $1.2 million to help set up VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, in addition to funding from its philanthropic partners. Over the next four years the Government will contribute an extra $6.9 million to build and expand the service.