Government freezes elderly out of insulation subsidy

Government cuts to the Warm Up New Zealand insulation subsidy means it will now only be available for rental properties and could leave many elderly homeowners cold this winter, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“In this year’s Budget the Government cut funding to the Warm Up programme from $100 million over three years to $18 million over two years. That means annual funding for the subsidy has fallen from $33 million to $9 million.

“Labour welcomes the focus on low-income tenants but it mustn’t come at the cost of other New Zealanders, particularly the elderly, many of whom own their homes but are on modest fixed incomes.

“For years Grey Power has raised concerns that some elderly are forced to stay in bed all day during winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes.

“An independent evaluation of the Warm Up programme found it prevented about 18 deaths among those aged 65 plus who had previously been hospitalised with circulatory illnesses.

“In the past financial year the majority of subsidies – 57 per cent of (see WPQ below) – went to homeowners, so there is huge demand for this support.

“At the same time as cutting insulation subsidy funding, the Government’s has introduced weak insulation requirements for rental properties under the Residential Tenancies Act. The cut to Warm Up New Zealand leaves the programme as nothing more than a subsidy to landlords. Yet again, National is looking after those at the top while doing the bare minimum to help middle New Zealand.

“My Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill – currently before select committee – goes further than the Government was prepared to. It will require all rental homes to meet modern insulation standards and have decent heating,” Andrew Little says.