Couple welcome boost for families

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 16/05/2014
Robb family
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
PLEASED: Shanna Robb, left and Rory Boyd with their children Saskia, 4 months old, Brooklyn, 4 and Mackenzie, 2.

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The Budget has delivered a much-needed boost to young families, say a Nelson couple.

Shanna Robb, Rory Boyd, and their children Brooklyn 4, MacKenzie, 2 and Saskia, 4 months live near Nelson Intermediate in a house they bought three years ago, with help from their parents.

They said the Budget appeared to be "really good" for young families.

They were pleased with the free GP visits and prescriptions to be extended from under-6s to under-13s, from July next year.

Robb said it would mean they could take extra precautions with their children's health.

"It will definitely be better for children all over New Zealand. I've read a few cases where kids have had a cough which turned into a heart condition. So now, parents can get on to those things more quickly."

Boyd said it was a good age to extend it to, as once children were 13 they could tell their parents if they needed to see a doctor.

The couple had missed out on the extension to paid parental leave. It would go up from 14 to 18 weeks.

Robb said it was a positive move, but "not enough."

"It's a horrible feeling having to leave the baby early, you would feel a bit more comfortable at six months."

The Government has promised $156m extra to early childhood education centres, to keep them "accessible and affordable".

The couple said they would be curious to see details of this, and if it would mean fees would go down.

Robb, a checkout supervisor at Countdown works 20 hours a week, and said half of her income went to childcare, so she wanted to see more help in paying for that.

The projected increase in wages over the next four years was welcome, but the pair were sceptical.

Finance Minister Bill English said the average annual wage is expected to rise by $7600 to $62,300 by 2018. "He says wages will go up, but what about the cost of living everything seems to be going up?" said Robb.

The cost of food and other expenses were already high, and a reduction in general living costs would go a long way for young families.

The family had two cars and said the reduction in ACC levies, of about $130, "would be amazing".

Overall, Robb and Boyd said they were pleased with what was offered to them in the Budget.

"In the past I have been disappointed," Robb said. "This year there are things in it which you think might help.

"This year they are giving back, somewhat," Boyd said.

Nelson GP spokesman Graham Loveridge said the intention to extend the free GP visits was a good initiative but needed to be introduced with caution and needed to be affordable to general practices.

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Currently it would cost between $30 and $36 for children to attend most practices.

"From a doctor's point of view it's great, it means there's not that barrier there for a worried parent to bring in a sick child, so you don't end up with a disaster situation due to the lack of access to healthcare."

However, he said it was "disappointing" it would not arrive until next winter.

He did not expect GPs to be "flooded" with children for trivial things.

"The 6 to 13 year old age group is a pretty healthy group of kids, on the other hand they do need health care. There are some families where the cost is a real imposition. It's a good initiative."

- The Nelson Mail

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