National is helping more Kiwis off welfare and into work

Before National came to power, the welfare system simply expanded with no investment in support to get people into work, or action to prevent long-term benefit dependency.

So we’ve reformed our welfare system and focused on providing intensive support for people who need it the most.

The latest benefit figures show our approach is working – the number of people on welfare for the June quarter is the lowest since 2008.

There are over 16,000 fewer people on welfare compared to June 2013, and sole parents are leading the way with a 10.7 per cent drop.

Sole parents, particularly those who go on benefit in their teens, have the highest lifetime costs of any group on welfare, and are likely to stay on benefit the longest.

That’s why our welfare reforms deliberately targeted them, investing millions into intensive support, training, and childcare.

The number of 18 and 19-year-old teen parents on the Young Parent Payment also dropped, falling 11.7 per cent. With teen parents spending an average of 19 years on benefit, and costing around $246,000 over a lifetime, this is good news for future generations.

The intensive wrap-around support through Youth Services and the tailored support Work and Income case managers are providing is paying off – for taxpayers and for people who were at risk of long-term welfare dependency.

National believes getting people off welfare and into work means a better life, better opportunities, and a brighter future for people and their families. We believe anyone who can work should be in employment, in training, or looking for a job.

Numbers on the Jobseeker benefit have fallen by almost 7,500 since last year, and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased over that period.

Our welfare reforms, and strong and growing economy, are giving more Kiwis the opportunity to get into work, earn higher wages, and build careers for themselves and better lives for their families.

National’s priorities to build a more competitive and productive economy and deliver better public services are making a real difference in the lives of New Zealanders.

Warrants of Fitness annual from 1 July

Until 1 July, New Zealand had one of the highest vehicle inspection frequencies in the world. Our six-monthly inspection system dated to the 1930s and was overdue for modernisation.

The National-led Government has led sensible and balanced changes to ensure our warrant of fitness (WoF) system is efficient, effective, and safe. This is part of growing a more competitive and productive economy.

Now, vehicles first registered on or after 1 January 2000 will move to annual WoF inspections for their lifetime. For new vehicles, after an initial inspection, another WoF won’t be required until the third anniversary of their first registration.

Our changes represent a precautionary approach to older vehicles, while recognising the improving safety of newer vehicles. They will save every vehicle owner time and money, while keeping safety as our highest priority.

Thousands more kids benefit from education

 More young people are on the road to success under a National-led Government.

One of our priorities is to deliver better public services, and we’ve set challenging targets in education because we want the best for Kiwi children.

We want 85 per cent of all 18-year-olds achieving NCEA Level 2 by 2017, and 98 per cent of all new school entrants having previously participated in early childhood education (ECE) by 2016.

We now have 78.6 per cent of 18-year-olds with a minimum of NCEA Level 2 – up 4.3 percentage points in just two years.  That means nearly 1600 more kids in the past two years achieving NCEA Level 2.

Since 2008, there has been a 6.2 percentage point increase for young Maori, and a 5.9 percentage point increase for Pasifika students.

In ECE, participation is up to 95.9 per cent – 3,839 more young kids engaged in learning since mid-2011.

These achievements are giving our young Kiwis so many more options for their futures.

For more information, click here.

Support to double for ACC hearing loss clients

Under National, the ACC scheme has turned around its performance, delivering better services, and is now financially sustainable. Now, major improvements have been made for clients who have injury or work-related hearing loss.

From this month ACC will:

  • Be doubling what it spends on hearing loss, going from approximately $20million to $30million per year.
  • Manage children with injury-related hearing loss on an individual basis so that their rapidly changing needs can be fully addressed as they grow.
  • For adults this means:

o   A separate hearing consultation allowance, so clients can shop around for their hearing aids after they have had their needs assessed

o   Increased ACC contribution to costs

o   Allowing for multiple repairs

o   New funding for ear moulds

o   Including a fixed fitting fee

o   Reduce bureaucracy by reducing the number of bands of degree of hearing loss

ACC and the Ministry of Health have worked closely with the hearing sector on these changes. Kiwis who use hearing aids will be able to shop around for the best price in hearing aids, rather than having to buy where they had the initial test.

Our changes increase choice, reduce cost barriers, and ensure clients have a better hearing treatment experience.

For more information, click here.

Keeping Kiwi kids safe through immunisation

From 1 July every child born in New Zealand will be able to be vaccinated against rotavirus for free.

Almost every young child will catch rotavirus at some point before they are three, unless they’re immunised. Most recover easily, but 600 – 800 Kiwi kids are admitted to hospital each year with complications such as dehydration.

Latest results show 91 per cent of eight-month-olds have received all their vaccinations. We are well on our way towards our Better Public Services target of 95 per cent by December 2014.

New Zealand has gone from having one of the lowest immunisation rates in the world to levels comparable with other OECD countries, including Australia.

National is committed to keeping our kids safe from easily preventable diseases – like whooping cough and rotavirus.

For more information, click here.

Supporting growth in the regions

The regions have led New Zealand out of the global financial crisis. Their success sits at the heart of National’s plan to build a more productive and competitive economy.

Almost every region has strong growth and the unemployment rate in the South Island is currently just 3.9 per cent.

National’s committed to Primary Growth Partnerships, Callaghan Innovation R&D funding, and encouraging water storage and irrigation projects. This is backed by ultra-fast and rural broadband, oil and gas exploration, and our Youth Guarantee and apprenticeship schemes.

NZTE has established a new regional investment attraction programme to encourage more international firms to invest in New Zealand’s regional economies, creating more jobs. Our latest roading projects are a continuation of our strong programme to build a brighter future across regional New Zealand.

$212 million supporting regional roads

Prime Minister John Key has announced $212 million from the Future Investment Fund for a package of 14 regionally-important state highway projects.

Our funding package complements the government’s Roads of National Significance programme, ensuring people and freight reach their destinations quickly and safety.

Regional New Zealand has been vital to our economic recovery, but there are still more regional roading projects we need to get underway. This funding supports these projects.

Our $212 million investment is on top of the $360 million we’ve already proposed for regional roading over the first four years of the next Government Policy Statement on Land Transport. Together, that’s nearly $600 million for roading projects to keep our regions moving in the right direction.

National is working for New Zealand. Our plan will help ensure the benefits of the recovery are spread across the country.

For more information, click here.