Allowances, subsidies and minimum wages will go up tomorrow

Benefits, subsidies and wages are all set for a shakeup as a new fiscal year kicks off on Saturday.

Young families, seniors and students are among those who will see more in their wallets. Meanwhile, the minimum wage increases by another $1.50.

On Friday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins did rounds of two of the groups most affected by the changes: young families and senior citizens.

He started the day at Papakura’s Happy Turtle Childcare Center, reading the classic picture book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to an engrossed crowd of kids.

Parents had to process their own information, with changes in income thresholds meaning that more than half of New Zealand’s families with children would now be eligible for subsidized childcare.

That equates to about 10,000 additional children covered by the pre-school childcare allowance or the OSCAR school-age children’s grant.

“We know what a difference it is to have access to quality child care for a family,” Hipkins said.

“It makes a difference in terms of their ability to go out and participate in the job market and make some extra money, which again really helps families, but it also makes a big difference for the kids because they get the great experience to be in centers like this where they can interact with other children and learn and grow.”

The government also increased the eldest child rate of the family tax credit by $9, bringing it to $136 per week.

Best Start Payments, which help parents with the cost of a newborn, would be increased by $4.

Welfare families with children would receive an additional $41 per week, single parents an additional $32.

For mother Megan Williams, the news was well received.

“At one point I had two children under the age of five in daycare, so it was a lot of money – about $640 every two weeks, which is a huge amount to spend.

“Any kind of support for families is very important right now; there are a lot of injured families.”

Avni Kher, mother of a one-year-old, said raising children needed help.

“With food prices getting really tricky – look at the price of garlic – that’s really not good for families [wanting] to have a good economic climate. I think we need that kind of support now.”

At Hipkins’ next stop, the Manurewa RSA, he spoke to seniors and veterans who would receive a boost for retirement.

From Saturday, a person over 65 will receive more than $ 100 extra every two weeks, while a single person will receive $ 67.

Royal New Zealand RSA President Sir Buck Shelford said many elderly Kiwis needed this help.

“These are pretty tough times for a lot of people. Interest rates keep going up… So for people with big mortgages – and I have big mortgages – we have to find the money to pay the bills.”

RSA member Geoff Dixon said the money would come in handy.

“Any help, especially for the elderly – and I’m a young buck, I suppose – but for the elderly who are struggling, those with large families, anything is a help, and I’m grateful.”

New Zealand’s lowest earners would also receive a boost, with the minimum wage increasing by $1.50 to $22.70 per hour.

Not everyone was happy with the news, with Business NZ calling the 6 per cent increase “a slap in the face for struggling businesses”.

Hipkins acknowledged these concerns, but said they were a necessary challenge to overcome.

“Especially for small businesses, the minimum wage can put an extra cost and extra pressure on them.

“But in my conversations with small business owners, they also want to make sure they’re doing the right thing through their staff — they want their staff to benefit from their hard work, too.”

Under the current Labor government, the minimum wage was revised every year – a record of which Hipkins was proud.

And despite the global economic uncertainty, he was confident that the government could take care of its people.

Many banks, many economists are predicting the potential for global recession.

“We will do everything we can to support New Zealanders in doing so.”

A $20 increase to student loan tuition and living expenses would also take effect on Saturday.