Changes to Working for Families
CPAG says that the Budget changes to Working for Families (WFF) signal a very worrying direction. The Minister portrayed WFF’s growth as unaffordable based on what happened as WFF was being phased in. “But between 2010 and 2012 the expenditure shows no growth at all despite the recession” says CPAG spokesperson Associate Professor Susan St John.
The WFF changes which lower the threshold and increase the rate of abatement over 8 years have been portrayed as if there are winners and losers. “There are in fact no winners. These changes signal a harsh change of direction, especially as the government has promised that there will be no other changes until 2018.”
By 2018 low income families currently on $37,000 will see their family assistance cut by a third in real terms. St John says WFF has never been as generous, well-designed or inclusive as the equivalent Australian programme for families: “now the changes in the 2011 budget leave New Zealand even further behind.”
By 2018, the threshold in Australia will be AUD $55,000 while New Zealand’s will be NZ$35,000. The family payments in Australia are already much more generous and much less like welfare payments.