Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Labour renews 'baby bonus' policy for Election 2017

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Stephen Parker
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Stephen Parker

Labour has confirmed it will offer the so-called 'baby bonus' and 26 weeks paid parental leave again in the 2017 campaign.

Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King said at the party's annual conference that the 'Best Start' policy which targets children under three had been reaffirmed by the party.

That package was announced at Labour's campaign launch in 2014 and included a near universal payment $60 weekly payment to parents of newborn children until the child turned one.

Lower income parents would get the payment for up to three years but it would not be paid to those on paid parental leave or who earned more than $150,000.

Labour's childrens spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern hinted Labour could extend its policy package further, saying the decision to keep Best Start for 2017 meant it was the minimum Labour would offer.

"The basic principles of Best Start were an acknowledgement that the early years are incredibly important and we wanted to make sure we weighted some of the support for families into those early years.

"Particularly 0-3 is when families really struggle with the transition of a family but are also less likely to be able to be in work."

The policy package also included 26 weeks paid parental leave, free antenatal classes for all first time mothers, and extending early childhood education subsidies from 20 free hours a week to 25 hours.

In 2014 the package was costed at $147 million in its first year rising to $528 million by 2018/19. The child payments were costed at $151 million in the first full year they apply of 2016/17, rising to $272 million by 2018/19.

- NZ Herald

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