Struggling families welcomed the recent news that the minimum family tax credit will be increased by $1 dollar a week. Revenue Minister Todd McLay explained how working families, who qualify for the minimum family tax credit, will see their after tax annual income increase by $52. Mr McLay wished to ensure that working families were rewarded for being in work and that their incomes were adjusted to meet any increases in inflation.
This would make a real difference to these families' weekly budget and address the fact that median family income has been dropping. Maori and Pasifika families were also pleased to hear about the increase as they had experienced the biggest income loss over the last few years. The median income for Maori families had dropped $40 dollars a week over the past four years and $65 dollars for Pasifika families. The $1 increase was a move in the right direction.
One family (who wished to remain anonymous) had already written a list of things that they could now buy with this weekly influx of funds:
- Just under half a litre of petrol
- Half a loaf of bread
- Half of an item from a $2 shop
- 8 units of electricity
The same family thought that they may open a savings account to get most value from the windfall and the interest (minus bank fees) accrued may give them an extra dollar over the year. The $53 dollars saved could buy something really substantial like a pair of shoes.
The generosity shown by this Government for those on minimum incomes has been impressive over the last five years with the minimum wage having increased by $1.25 since 2008. The Government has also supported private schemes to fund breakfasts in schools for hungry children and has plans to build a few low cost houses sometime shortly. Charity organisations have found the Government has been very encouraging for them to do more to support struggling families and children.
Many families have also applauded the National Standards in Education that were designed to address low rates of achievement for children in difficult socio-economic circumstances. Without the Standards, parents claim, they would never have realised how far behind their children were.
This National led Government should have their support of struggling families properly recognised when they stand to be re-elected in 2014.