NZ election 2023: Green Party pledges to double Best Start payment

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Greens co-leader Marama Davidson
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson . . . "How is it possible that in a wealthy country like ours, there are thousands of children without enough to eat?" Image: RNZ/Samuel Rillstone

RNZ News

New Zealand’s Green Party says it will double the Best Start payment from $69 a week to $140 — and it will also make it available for all children under three years.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson announced the policy today, saying it is part of a “fully costed plan” paid for with a fair tax system.

“One in 10 children are growing up in poverty. For Māori, it is one in five. How is it possible that in a wealthy country like ours, there are thousands of children without enough to eat, a good bed, warm clothes, and decent shoes?,” she asked.

“That is why the Green Party would ensure all families have what they need for these early years, by doubling Best Start from $69 a week, to $140, and make it universal for all children under three years.”

Currently, families can receive the $69 weekly Best Start payment until their baby turns one, no matter the income.

However, they do not get that payment while they are receiving the paid parental leave payment. After the first year, only families earning under $96,295 are eligible to receive the payment until their child turns three.

The doubling of the Best Start payment is part of the Green Party’s Income Guarantee plan.

“This universal payment for the first three years recognises that just like in our older years through superannuation, the very first years of a new baby’s life are a time when every family needs extra support,” Davidson said.

Fairer Working for Families
“Under this plan we’ll also reform Working for Families into a simpler, fairer system.

“This will provide a payment of up to $215 every week for the first child, and $135 a week for every other child, in addition to the Best Start payments.

“With the Green Party in government, we can take action to guarantee every whānau has enough to get by no matter what.

“There is no reason for any child in Aotearoa to go hungry or to live in a damp, cold house. Poverty is a political choice.

“Our plan will provide lasting solutions that will guarantee everyone has what they need to live a good life and cover the essentials — even when times are tough.”

Since 2021, the Labour government has increased the Best Start payment from $60 to $69 a week.

  • Monday night’s Newshub-Reid Research poll gave the Greens a boost, rising to 14.2 percent, as the Labour Party dipped slightly to 26.5 percent.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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