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Is the recent increase to benefits really enough?

Lachlan Rennie
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Person holding out coins.  Photo by Connor Hall on Unsplash

New Zealanders have just received a boost to their benefits and wages to help with the cost of living, but will it be enough for struggling Kiwis?

Pensioners, students and families will see all their benefits increased and minimum wage being raised to keep up with Aotearoa's high inflation.

Students will see an extra $20.21 per week for their student loans and allowances.

Couples aged over 65 will receive $102.84 more in total a fortnight and a single person living alone will receive an extra $66.86 each payment.

Family benefits will now be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of wages to keep up better with the rate of inflation, increasing by 7.2%.

University of Canterbury Campus
University of Canterbury Campus Lachlan Rennie

University of Canterbury Student Association Wellbeing and Equity Representative Jeremy Wright, sees that students are struggling with the current cost of living.

“People are having a hard time; we have had hundreds and hundreds coming through for wellbeing support.”

Wright is glad students are seeking support but is concerned about a lack of resources.

“The USCA food bank has already gone through its budget for the year.”

Wright is glad to see an increase for student benefits and minimum wage but thinks students will need more.

“It's good to have an increase but currently I think a lot of students are not prepared for a Christchurch winter.”

He encourages any students struggling with the cost of living to seek support and not struggle alone.

“Nobody should struggle alone and deal with it themselves, there is always support for those who look for it.”

Age Concern Canterbury CEO Greta Bond agrees the increase is a positive start for pensioners, but more can be done.

“The increase will help to stop people falling behind, but they are still in a pretty precarious situation.”

Bond says plenty of pensioners struggle with rent, food and heating costs and an unexpected expense can push them over the edge.

“Plenty are living in dread for an unexpected expense … like recently someone dealing with a leak left them with a $4000 dollar plumbing bill. That's ridiculous.”

Bond urges those who are struggling to use this upcoming election to make their voices and concerns heard. 

Ministry of Social Development
Ministry of Social Development Lachlan Rennie

Child Poverty Action Group Spokesperson Alan Johnson is concerned the change to CPI for family benefits won’t make much of an impact.

“The increase could only be about $5 per week for families with children - little more than the cost of a loaf of bread."

Johnson thinks it's a start but wants a reform of the benefit and tax system to help those families living in poverty.

"This is just a holding pattern while we wait for much-needed radical reform of our benefit and tax system.

"One in six children in New Zealand will still live in households where food runs out sometimes or often due to lack of money."

With the latest StatsNZ report showing no real change in child poverty rates Johnson is urging action from the government.

"How could there be any change in the rate of child poverty in New Zealand when there have been no policies implemented that could turn things around?”

For more information on the groups involved and the benefits increase please use links below.


Age Concern Canterbury


Beehive Press release