Concerns KiwiSaver bill could be stopped

There are concerns that a bill that would make it easier for foster children to access KiwiSaver may be stopped in its tracks.

The private member’s bill was introduced by National P Hamish Walker and would allow any foster parent to approach a KiwiSaver provider to open an account for a foster child in their care.

Financial Advice New Zealand had offered its members’ services, pro bono, to any foster kids who wanted advice with their KiwiSaver enrolment.

The bill passed its first reading and is before select committee.

But it has been reported that Oranga Tamariki opposed the plan.

Sam Stubbs, founder of Simplicity, said that was outrageous.

He said the plan should have been a no-brainer.

"You couldn't do a more innocuous thing for a kid."

He said, if it were stopped, it would be a "triumph of politics over children's welfare".

KiwiSaver would be a safe place for them to put their money, or for other people to put money for a child, he said. 

"The only losers [if it doesn't go ahead] are the kids. Denying them their financial welfare."

He said he had dealt with one mother who had been trying for five years to set KiwiSaver up for her foster kids. Normally, parents can do it in minutes.

Financial Advice NZ chief executive Katrina Shanks said she was keen to see the bill proceed.

"We talk about wellbeing and inequality – this is a way to amek it better for these kids."

A spokeswoman for Walker said he could not comment on "privileged information relating to his KiwiSaver (Foster Parents Opting in for Children in their Care) Amendment Bill, while it is working through Select Committee".