A balanced Budget has been delivered.
Budget 2021 is about securing our recovery from Covid-19. We're focused on creating jobs, growing the economy and keeping a lid on debt, while tackling long-term challenges like child wellbeing, housing and climate change.
We're lifting weekly main benefit rates. Lifting main benefits will not only support families on the lowest incomes – ensuring that child poverty will reduce – but we know that lifting the incomes of those who have the least discretionary income gets spent in their local communities.
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This increase will get spent on things like putting food on the table, buying children shoes, and heating homes, which will provide a stimulus for our businesses here in Palmerston North, while also supporting our wider recovery. Main benefits will increase on July 1, and again on April 1 next year.
We're also continuing to upgrade infrastructure across New Zealand to drive economic growth. Budget 2021 includes a record $57.3 billion investment over the next five years that will create jobs and address the long-term underinvestment in infrastructure, ensuring we have hospitals, schools and transport networks we need for the future.
Many of the common concerns I hear from constituents in Palmerston North are reflected in the focus of Budget 2021.
The training incentive allowance for higher-level study is being reinstated. This will support 16,000 to retrain, gain higher skills and transition into careers. And together with Business New Zealand and the CTU, we're designing a social unemployment insurance scheme.
The Government is also backing whānau with $1b for Māori wellbeing.
In addition, we're quadrupling funding for green investment. This includes $37 million towards nationally integrated farm planning systems for farmers and growers and $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development.
As we continue to respond to the uncertainty that Covid has thrown our way, we know we need to keep managing our economy responsibly. But our recovery plan has to be about more than just growing GDP and keeping debt down. It must also prioritise the wellbeing of our people by ensuring our Covid-19 recovery supports all New Zealanders.
• Tangi Utikere is the MP for Palmerston North.