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Describe poverty like it is

Grey Power media release: 12 June 2005

”Describe poverty like it is, not what you want us to hear,” Grey Power tells the Government

“One has to suspect the Ministry of Social Development, which is responsible for measuring the level of poverty in New Zealand is telling the government what it wants to hear, and not how it really is,” says Grey Power Federation president Graham Stairmand in Christchurch today.

Grey Power’s 87,000 strong membership of retired and over-fifties New Zealanders has taken exception to the figures released last week by the Ministry of Social Development’s three-yearly Household Economic Survey which showed that poverty rates in the country have declined since 2001 as a result of government policy.

The survey taken in 2004 cites statistics based on housing costs, class comparisons, and data from Statistics New Zealand.

Mr Stairmand points out that the Ministry of Social Development is also responsible for administering New Zealand Superannuation payments through Work and Income.

“They of all officials, should know best that the $24,456 gross per annum paid to a qualified married couple is well below the government’s own poverty level which is $27,600,” Mr Stairmand says. “It is even worse, as the poverty level is set at 60% of median income of $46,000 (2004) which is not gross.

“Government ignores their own departments’ criteria of poverty, when they knowingly pay elderly New Zealanders well below the poverty line, protesting all the time that the level of Superannuation is adequate.

“Surely this double standard indicates the little esteem and respect the government has for its elder citizens. The well-known adage that ‘the state of the nation can best be seen by the care it provides for its old people,’ was never more true.

Graham Stairmand says the promised changes to rates relief, cheaper doctor visits and other system tinkering will raise few if any retired people from the poverty level.


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