Seniors will suffer most, Leary says

Seniors are the biggest losers in this year’s Budget, the MP for Taieri says.

Ingrid Leary, the opposition spokeswoman for seniors, said rising costs and no relief from government would push some older New Zealanders out of their homes.

"Before the election, retired couples were due to get $13 a week from tax cuts — that’s been slashed to just $2.15 each.

"That’s less than a loaf of bread.

"Single superannuitants get a few cents more.

"It’s going to push some seniors to the brink of bankruptcy and out of their homes, whether they rent or own.

"It’s shameful. Those who put their faith in Winston Peters to advocate for them within Parliament must feel betrayed.

"Amongst many groups short-changed, seniors are the biggest losers in this Budget.

"Given the higher proportion of seniors living in the lower South compared to most other parts of New Zealand, that confirms that this National government doesn’t care about us."

Finance Minister Nicola Willis "promised significant tax cuts" — about $250 per family per fortnight — and said she would not borrow to pay for it, Ms Leary said.

"The reality is she has borrowed $12 billion to help line the coffers of landlords with a $2.9b tax break."

As of December 2020, 15.6% of New Zealand’s population was aged 65 or older.

It was projected that by 2034 more than 21% of the population, about 1.2million people, would be aged 65 and over.

More than a quarter of the Taieri electorate was over 60, higher than the national average, she said.

Grey Power Otago president Jo Millar said the Budget announcement left her feeling "really quite deflated".

There was a 17.5% rates rise from the city council, a 16% rates increase from the regional council, power prices were going up, and those in council flats were looking at an 11% rent increase as well.

"And yet all the landlords around about have been given good big handouts.

"I can’t see anybody in a rented property benefiting from that.

"I just don’t think that there’s an understanding of the fact that age catches up with everybody.

"And when you get to retirement age, there is no way to get any more money other than the superannuation or whatever savings you’ve been able to make up until you retire.

"I don’t think politicians have the slightest idea of what it is like living pension day to pension day."

In her Budget speech, Ms Willis said the government’s Budget priorities were healthcare, schools and police.

It was the most fiscally responsible budget announcement in seven years.

"This Budget is for everyday people getting on with their lives — the mums and dads rushing the kids to kōhanga [nursery], working hard, waiting in traffic and watching the petrol light flash again.

"This Budget is for the people whose doors I knocked on in the election campaign, who said $20 a week would be the difference between staying on top of the bills and being in overdraft.

"It’s for the man who told me he picked up a second job driving an Uber to pay the rent.

"It’s for every New Zealander, from every walk of life, who gives their best and wants a fair deal in return."