Increases to benefits, super, student allowances take effect

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
Low income earners will get some money back in their pockets, with a raft of income support measures kicking in.

Opposition parties argue the changes don't address the cost of living crisis while the Green Party wants benefits lifted higher.

From today, main benefit rates increase by between $20 and $42 per adult each week compared to July 2021.

The minimum wage is also rising from $20 to $21.20 per hour while the superannuation is lifting by $52 a fortnight for a single person and $80 a fortnight for a couple.

Student Allowance and living costs are increasing by $25 a week and Working for Families tax credits are being boosted too.

Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said the increases will help people put food on the table and pay power bills in the winter months.

National Party finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said the income support measures will do nothing for New Zealand's 'squeezed' middle class.

"National is really concerned about the squeezed middle who are confronting rising prices and who are not getting income relief from this government.

"Our tax package that we've put forward would ensure that an average income household would get tax relief of $1600 over the course of the year."

The National Party has already called for the government to adjust tax brackets for inflation at the upcoming Budget in May.

The ACT party also wants tax cuts; leader David Seymour said middle income earners were taxed too much and should get to keep more of their money.

"Every single one [of the new supports] is taking money off people that work and do stuff and giving it to people who do so to a lesser extent. We can't get rich by taxing and transferring."

Despite today's boosts to benefits, anti-poverty campaigners are warning some of the poorest families could still be up to $300 short a week.

The Green Party's social development spokesperson, Ricardo Menéndez March, said benefits should be increased.

"We're calling on the government to commit to much further substantive increases to core benefits so that we're not condemning people to continue to go to Work and Income for hardship grants just to survive."

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