If you’re having a baby, you’re in for a financial boost – an extra $60 a week in your bank account through the new Best Start payment.
Its purpose is to help Kiwi families give their babies the best start in life possible through easing some of the financial pressure new parents face, particularly if you’re on one income now, or if you’re on parental leave. We think it’s an awesome idea, but of course, we have questions – and in order to help you understand Best Start better, we went right to the source to get you some answers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get an interview with the PM, but we have some other friends in high places who gave us the lowdown. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Best Start payment.
What is Best Start?
It’s a weekly payment of up to $60 per child (up to $3,120 per year) and it’s available to eligible parents who have a baby due on or after 1 July 2018. This means an extra $60 in your bank account every week – a big help when you’re on parental leave or your family is living on only one income.
Who can get it?
For the first year of your baby’s life, all eligible families will get the payment of $60 a week, regardless of their household income. After your baby turns one, if your household income is less than $79,000, you’ll continue to receive the $60 a week until your child turns three. If your family is earning between $79,000 up to $93, 858 per year, you may continue to receive payments at a reduced amount from the time your child turns one until they turn three.
So what does “eligible” mean?
To be eligible for the Best Start payment, you need to be the principal caregiver of the child, and be a New Zealand resident or citizen who has been in New Zealand for at least 12 months. The baby you’re claiming the Best Start payment for needs to be a New Zealand resident, and they also need to be present in New Zealand too.
The payment started with babies who are due or born on or after 1 July. If your baby was due in June but you give birth in July (because we know how babies love to arrive on time, right?), you’ll be eligible.
But seriously, if I was due on 30 June 2018 and my baby was born that day, I missed out on the payment! How is that fair?
We know it’s disappointing. But Government funds are budgeted from 1 July 2018, and that’s why the start date was 1 July. Remember, though, that you may still be eligible for other forms of financial support – paid parental leave, Working for Families, and other things. Check out the Smart Start website , where there’s lots of info about what financial help you might be able to access. SmartStart is a special website that gives you information and support to help you access the right services for you and your baby. You need a RealMe login to use this website.
Hey, I’m having twins! Does this mean I get $120 a week?
You get $60 a week per child, so yes, you’d get $120 a week for twins.
How can I apply for Best Start?
There are two ways you can register to receive Best Start. The first is when your baby is born and you register their birth on the Smart Start website . The second way to register to receive Best Start payments is when you apply for Working for Families (WfF) using the WfF registration form (FS1), which is available online or from the IRD.
I’m also getting paid parental leave (PPL) – can I still get Best Start payments?
Yes. However, if you get paid parental leave, your Best Start payments will start once your paid parental leave payments end. You won’t get both at once.
Speaking of parental leave, isn’t it increasing?
Yes! This is another bonus – paid parental leave is increasing from 18 weeks up to a max of 22 weeks. Again, this is for parents who have a baby due on or after 1 July 2018, or who have children under the age of six years coming into their care. There’s more good news – the number of “keeping in touch” hours is also increasing, from 40 to 52. This means that if you have a job and you’re on parental leave, you can stay connected with your employer and do a bit of paid work from time to time, up to 52 hours total during your leave, without penalty.
How do I find out more about Best Start?
Check out ird.govt.nz/beststart for all the “official” info about Best Start and some other changes to financial support for New Zealand families. Or visit the Smart Start website for specific info for parents expecting a baby.