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Budget leaves old slightly warmer but poorer

Age Concern New Zealand media release

Budget – 28 May 2009

Budget leaves older people slightly warmer but poorer – Age Concern

Older people receive a few crumbs in Budget 09 but no extra income says Age Concern New Zealand.

"Mr English says the Budget is intended to help New Zealanders through the recession. But what is there to help older people through the recession?" chief executive Ann Martin says.

"We acknowledge these are difficult times and the Government has made few actual cuts, but there's little to help the majority of older people, who have to live on superannuation that's 27% less than the minimum wage."

The only Budget spending that Age Concern sees for older people is:

- $90 million for aged care and respite care improvements, although the details of how, when, and where this will be applied are unclear.

- The NZ Insulation Fund, allocated $323 million over four years to help insulate old, cold houses. This does have the potential to improve older people's health and reduce energy bills but only if they can fund the rest of the cost (around $3000 for an average house) themselves. Age Concern says power companies should help with this.

- Action on waiting lists with $70 million for additional health care professionals to staff the already-announced elective surgery centres.

"On the other hand, the one scrap of relief for older people struggling on low incomes and with lost investments has been taken away.

"The 2011 tax cuts for low-income people have been 'deferred'. These would have given people earning $14,000 to $24,000 a year (which includes many older people), about $100 extra. Now even that's gone.

“Older people tell us they're most concerned about the "Big 4" welfare needs: receiving the health care they need; getting adequate income; improving attitudes to older people; and alleviating chronic loneliness,” Ann Martin says.

“Age Concern has suggested initiatives to achieve these to Government, but there's nothing that even addresses three of out of four of these needs in Budget 09.”

ENDS

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