Labour's new Families Package will oil the economy and improve lives, a social service provider claimed.
Labour leader Andrew Little outlined the party's "Families Package" today, saying they would ditch tax cuts but keep National's increases to both Working for Families payments and the Accommodation Supplement.
It would also further boost Working for Families by increasing payments and extending it to 30,000 more families on middle incomes at a further cost of $370 million a year - meaning an overall increase for the scheme of $743 million a year.
Little said Labour will use about $890 million of the $1.5 billion saved from scrapping the tax cuts for a more generous Working for Families scheme and other help for low-income families while putting the remainder into public services and infrastructure.
National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce called the package "a convoluted spaghetti of entitlements".
Te Whānau O Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere told the Herald any financial increase to low-income families would be good for everyone and oil the economy. He was pleased to hear Labour's announcement.
"That money is instantly invested weekly back into the economy. It's not held in cash deposits. It goes immediately on better clothes for the kids."
Tamihere believed that while employment was high many Kiwis were just "treading water" despite working two or three jobs to cover the cost of housing.
Child Poverty Action Group housing spokesman Frank Hogan agreed housing was the key issue. He believed Labour's Kiwibuild policy to build 100,000 affordable homes in 10 years was a good start.
"The train has left the station a long time ago. People are standing on the platform. Those seeking secure affordable homes need to be given some form of ticket to get on the train again.
"Whether or not the train is big enough is another issue, but certainly there needs to be a game changer."
Grey Power president Tom O'Connor said the Families Package was well overdue and a sign the Labour party was heading back to it's roots of looking after the country's most vulnerable.
O'Connor supported the Winter Energy Payment of $700 for couples and parents with children at home and $450 for single people. But he wanted it to be implemented as a credit so desperate families wouldn't use it for groceries which left them without money for heating.
"Particularly in the South Island we have some very vulnerable people who really do struggle in the winter. It's really really tough.
"What they are talking about is a hell of a lot better than what we've got."
Elderly who had ended up living alone on a single super with no savings needed additional help, O'Connor said.
"These people end of life should not rely on charity and food parcel. these people built the country
"It's enough for that to be a national disgrace."
Auckland Action Against Poverty co-ordinator Vanessa Cole said the policies were a step in the right direction but did not go far enough. She criticised the party for maintaining their fiscal responsibility policy which was focused on reducing public spending.
"We need a liveable income for unemployed workers so people can live and not just survive.
"Paying for heating is all good but some families don't even have a home to heat."
Cole said the Best Start policy only catered to small children and a more universal policy would help alleviate child poverty.