May 20, 2010

NEW ZEALAND: Small in-the-hand increase not enough – Age Concern

WELLINGTON, New Zealand / Age Concern / Budget 2010 / May 20, 2010

Older people receive a little extra income from October 1, but many still won't have enough to live in dignity and safety, Age Concern New Zealand says.

Seniors will get a 2.02 % Superannuation increase from October 1 plus small tax cuts but GST is increasing from 12.5% to 15%.

"Our nationwide experience working with older people shows the level of New Zealand Superannuation is inadequate for at least one-quarter of superannuitants," Age Concern national president Liz Baxendine says.

Two recent independent studies show that extra income is needed to fund even a minimal standard of living.

Liz Baxendine contrasts the $8.57 a week extra that Government estimates a single older person will get in the hand with the weekly shortfalls of $18 to $30 that Age Concern says many seniors face, especially in the colder Southern parts of the country.

Age Concern wants to see Super increased to the full proportion of the net average wage allowed under the Superannuation Act, inflation adjustments to be made twice a year, and an investigation into the real income level that's needed for older people to live in dignity and safety.

"If the GST increase sparks higher inflation than the Government estimates, we expect to see serious problems," Liz Baxendine says. "Inflation adjustments are currently only paid once a year, and in arrears, so older people will have to wait a long time for relief."

"Many older people walk a fine line between adequate income and not coping. GST-fuelled price rises, plus the electricity price rises that are coming this winter, have the potential to adversely affect many." [rc]

©2010 Age Concern New Zealand