Chris Hipkins: Cost of living relief for New Zealanders

The past few years have been incredibly difficult for many New Zealanders.

Most recently, severe weather events have hit our regions hard, causing extensive damage to communities. We’ve faced the most significant global challenge in decades, and now in the wake of the pandemic, high inflation is affecting us here at home as the cost of energy, food and materials have increased across the world.

In tough times, it’s critical that we support those who are struggling to make ends meet.

When I became Prime Minister, I made it clear that our focus needed to be on supporting New Zealanders with the cost of living – and, following the cyclone and recent flooding, helping communities rebuild and recover. So, that’s what we are doing.

Further cost of living support is rolling out to over a million New Zealanders. Families, seniors, caregivers, students, workers and those on main benefits will see boosts to their income.

Around 880,000 people will get an increase to Superannuation, including 5000 veterans, and over 50,000 students will see a bump in allowance or loan living costs.

More than half of New Zealand families with kids will now be eligible for subsidised childcare assistance, meaning more parents will be able to afford childcare and before and after school care. On top of that, 345,000 families, including 646,000 children, will be better off through Working for Families Tax Credits.

A couple with children who are receiving a main benefit will now be better off by $256 per week on average than they were in 2017, and a sole parent is better off by $180 per week.

New Zealanders should be confident that they can get ahead and create a better life for themselves and their families through their hard work.

Approximately 223,000 workers will receive a wage rise as a result of the minimum wage increasing to $22.70. The nurses pay agreement will mean nurses in aged residential care, hospices, home and community support services, along with those in Māori and Pacific healthcare, will have up to 15 percent more in their take home pay.

Our temporary and targeted cost of living payment, fuel tax cuts and half price public transport fares have also helped ease the inflationary effects of the Ukraine war and supply chain disruptions.

Every bit counts when making ends meet right now. I know these changes won’t solve everything, but they will help to alleviate some of the pressure.

There is also more support to come, including with the annual Winter Energy Payment restarting from 1 May to help more than a million people with the cost of energy bills through the colder months.

Our Government’s number one priority is to support New Zealanders with cost pressures in the face of global challenges and through the impact of the cyclone and floods.

We will continue working hard to provide support for families and to lift incomes, as well as tackling the structural causes of inflation, so that everyone in our country can get ahead.

See more on our 1 April package here