6 Nov 2015

Mixed reaction to proposed benefits increase

5:56 am on 6 November 2015

The government's proposed $25 a week increase in benefits has led to accusations it is giving with one hand and taking with the other.

National MP, Anne Tolley.

National MP, Anne Tolley. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Opposition parties were worried that some beneficiary families could lose some of their entitlements as a result of the increase.

On Thursday night, Parliament unanimously passed the second reading of the Support for Children in Hardship Bill that would lift benefits, while at the same time increase work obligations on parents.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said it would be the first time unemployment benefits had been raised outside inflation adjustments since 1972.

Working for families entitlements would also be increased, she told Parliament.

"These changes will see the in-work tax credit increase from $60 to $72.50 per week, with the minimum family tax credit also lifting by $12 per week."

But Labour MP Sue Moroney said the government was doing as little as it possibly could for those living in poverty.

She warned some families could even be worse off because those earning over $36,500 a year would start losing some of their entitlements.

Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie said the legislation was pretending to support children in hardship.

"I feel like I'm swallowing a bit of a dead rat, standing here today to vote in support of this mis-named bill."

"The reality is it represents a conscious decision by the Government not to move children out of poverty," Ms Logie said.

Anne Tolley said the changes were significant and should reach more than 380,000 children in low-income families and 190,000 children in benefit-dependent families.

The legislation will be debated clause by clause on the next available sitting day.

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