Labour is promising to provide up to $4515 for low-income families to help them get qualifications, and to increase the amount of money people working part-time can earn while on a benefit, should it return to Government after the election.
Party spokesperson for social development Carmel Sepuloni said reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA), which was cut in 2009 for Level 4 qualifications and above, would assist with the costs of getting a degree-level tertiary qualification.
"Covid-19 is going to impact incomes and employment significantly, which is why Labour is focused on improving New Zealanders' access to training, creating a more highly skilled workforce and ensuring those on benefits can keep more of what they earn," Sepuloni said.
"In 2018, under the existing settings, around 900 people accessed the TIA. Reinstating access to the TIA for degree level study is estimated to increase uptake to over 6000 in the first year, increasing to 15,000 in later years."
Expanding the TIA would cost about $431 million over four years, and about $187 million in capital over the next decade. Funding would come from the $50 billion Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Sepuloni, who had been supported by the TIA when she was a sole parent and studying, said the extra money made a "big difference".
"Access to support for higher level courses under the TIA was taken away by National, despite the responsible Minister Paula Bennett herself having benefited from this support," Sepuloni said.
People can claim up to about $113 a week under the TIA, and it can be used alongside student loans and child care assistance.
Raising abatement threshold for jobseeker beneficiaries
Sepuloni said raising the abatement threshold - the amount people on the jobseeker benefit can earn before they would start losing their benefit - would help incentivise beneficiaries to stay in or take up part-time work.
Current rates mean someone on the jobseeker support benefit would have their benefit reduced at 70 cents per dollar if they earned more than $90 per week. Labour is proposing this threshold be increased to $160 per week.
"We know that part-time work can be an important step toward full-time work, but the current thresholds can make it hard for people to enter the labour market or take on more part-time work," she said.
"It also means low income families don't get to keep extra income they earn that could help them get by."
The adjustment is expected to cost about $320 million over four years.
Up to 30,000 Kiwis would be better off with an increased abatement threshold, with some getting up to an extra $70 a week, Sepuloni said.
She said Labour would keep its commitment to progressively increase abatement thresholds in line with minimum wage increases.
Labour is also promising to expand the flexi-wage programme by investing an additional $300 million to increase the average subsidy.
The programme encourages employers to hire people at risk of long-term unemployment and receiving a benefit.
Of the $300 million, Labour plans to ring-fence $30 million to support its recipients to start a new business or become self-employed.
Meanwhile, National is promising $3000 to all expecting parents to spend on child-related services, with some in greater need given up to $6000.
The party is also pledging to uphold previous promises of allowing three day postnatal stay entitlements and allowing parents to take paid parental leave at the same time.
National leader Judith Collins said the "First 1000 Days" election policy "centres on National’s pioneering social investment approach, calls for greater and more targeted spending to create better human and economic returns in the long run and costs $226 million".