Incomes and employment
The current government's wage subsidy scheme helped many get through the Covid-19 lockdown. While all the parties agree that ongoing measures are needed to keep New Zealanders in work while the pandemic rages, their plans vary widely. For some, the answer is to make doing business cheaper, while others support broader income and jobs guarantees.
Tax and income support
New Zealand uses progressive taxation to redistribute wealth, though tax rates are at an historic low and the government ruled out a capital gains tax, despite recommendations from a working group it established early in the term. Aside from benefits, many people receive income support in the form of Working for Families tax credits.
Wages and working conditions
Along with recent increases to the minimum wage, the government has proposed fair pay agreements that would fix wages and conditions across whole industries. Critics say increases to the minimum wage will increase unemployment, and industry agreements would give too much power to workers and unions.
As part of the Covid-19 response, core benefits were increased by $25. But the government also created a special higher rate of benefit for people who lose their job because of Covid-19, leading to criticism that the benefit system is no longer adequate. Recommendations from a working group established by the government have been largely ignored.
New Zealand has provided some kind of payment to older people since 1898 but the cost has increased as the population has aged. One approach has been to save money in the government's Super Fund, but some parties say payments should stop during the recovery. Others say it's time for the retirement age to be increased.
Jobs and employment
New Zealand has so far avoided the scale of unemployment seen in other countries as a result of Covid-19, down in part to the wage subsidy. But many predict it is only a matter of time. Some parties promote the private sector and small business as the key to economic recovery and others say that government needs to step in to create jobs directly.