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Time to put Super level under the microscope

Media Release 30 June 2008

Time to put Super level under the microscope

Age Concern New Zealand says it's time to re-start debate on older New Zealanders' retirement income needs.

National President Liz Baxendine has welcomed one party's proposal to raise National Superannuation levels to 68 percent of the national average wage, and major parties' promises to retain the current 66 percent level.

"However, it's still not enough to keep the most vulnerable older New Zealanders healthy and safe.

"It's also a meaningless measure: We completely reject the artificial linking of the national average wage for a single person to the Super payment for a couple.

"What relation a single person's wage has to the retirement income of an older couple eludes me," Liz Baxendine says. "Increasing numbers of older people are living alone, and they have to run their households on much less than the couple rate.

"Let's compare apples with apples, the average weekly wage for one person should be compared with the weekly single National Superannuation rate – then New Zealanders would really see how little they really get to live on.

"Even after the October tax cuts, a senior living alone will get just $297 a week in the hand. Most have little or no other additional income above National Super, and no way of getting extra money to cover soaring living costs.

"Could you live on $15,500 a year?"

Age Concern has called for more investigation into the income that seniors really need to maintain their health and safety.

"We see too many older people endangering their health by cutting back on food and heating because of soaring living costs. Government should be thinking more widely; for example, in the UK pensioners get emergency energy payments in cold weather," Liz Baxendine says.

"Older people have earned the right to be treated with respect, and adequate income is one of their most fundamental needs."


LINK to more information on older people's incomes

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