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Budget 2022: Nearly $1b to disability sectors and changes to benefits

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 May 2022, 2:08pm
The planned cuts were blocked by government ministers. (Photo / 123RF)
The planned cuts were blocked by government ministers. (Photo / 123RF)

Budget 2022: Nearly $1b to disability sectors and changes to benefits

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 May 2022, 2:08pm
  • $13.2 billion over four years including $11.1b to cover cost pressures and $2.1b on new services
  • $1.8b in new spending in the coming year to address historic cost pressures, including DHB deficits
  • $188 million for the Māori Health Authority to commission services and develop iwi partnerships
  • $102m over the next three years to provide better, earlier GP and community care and to ease pressure on hospitals

Changes to sole parent benefits will see 6000 to 14,000 more children out of poverty, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

And nearly $1 billion will go towards the disability support system, including establishing a new Ministry for Disabled Peoples.

As part of Budget 2022, the Government is amending the rules and treating Child Support paid to sole-parent beneficiaries as income.

This would lift an estimated 6000 to 14,000 children out of poverty using the before housing costs measure, Ardern said.

"This policy is in addition to the range of measures implemented since taking office that have lifted 66,500 children out of poverty and seen reduction in child poverty across all nine measures used," Ardern said.

This initiative means that Child Support payments for sole-parent beneficiaries will be passed on directly and charged as income for benefit purposes, as they are for most other beneficiaries raising tamariki, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said.

"It is estimated that 41,550 sole-parent families will be better off, with a median gain of $24 per week.

"This will be the first time in New Zealand's history that children of sole parents on a benefit will receive their full Child Support payments."

The change is intended to come into effect from July 2023.

Budget 2022 also increases dental grants for low-income families from $300 to $1000.
"Many low-income New Zealanders find it difficult to afford immediate and essential dental care, and increasing the level of the grant will ensure more people can receive the urgent help they need," Sepuloni said.

"Low-income people who are eligible will see the amount available more than trebled, and the dental work no longer needs to be for emergencies only."

The Government was also locking in making hardship assistance such as food grants, dental grants and recoverable assistance payments available to more New Zealanders.

Budget 2022 would also see $943m go towards the disability sector, with $108m towards a Ministry for Disabled peoples being established.

There would be $735m spent on volume and price pressures around disability services and $100m towards the Enabling Good Lives programme.

There would be a further $11m so more disabled people can access the services they need. An additional 370 disabled people will be able to access contracted Community Participation places per year by 2023/24.