Bennett doesn’t rule out increasing Working for Families credits for larger families

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett left the door open to increasing the Working for Families Tax Credits for bigger families.

Working for Families was introduced by the last Labour government.

The Ministerial Committee on Poverty has looked at a range of issues.

“The committee has decided that they’ll look deeper at a few other options, and that might be one of them,” the Minister told TVNZ’s Q+A programme today.

The government has however ruled out introducing a universal child payment – one of the key recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty.

The minister said the government was looking at “more targeted support” through Working for Families and emergency grants though the benefit system.

Mrs Bennett also ruled out another recommendation to have “at least five poverty measures to capture the different aspects of child poverty”.

There were already effective measures in place, she said. “It’s a statistical argument, these kids need action and I think that’s where the country’s attention should be.”

Commenting on the Food in Schools programme announced by the government this week, Mrs Bennett said it too was “better targeted” than other universal programmes in America or the UK.

“We’re getting to those children that really need it,” she said, “and we can kind of pontificate around it, but at the end of the day you’ve got hungry kids, so let’s step in and do something about it.”

Mrs Bennett said the Government put significant amounts of money into low-income and beneficiary families. “They should be able to feed their kids on that. But circumstances sometimes mean they can’t, and as a consequence we want to put the children first and make sure they’re being fed.”

“We would rather that these children were getting fed at home and in a more nurturing environment.”

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