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Budget Increases Do Not Go Far Enough to Help Older People

Budget Spending Increases Do Not Go Far Enough to Help Older People

Government spending increases for some services for older people will help, but do not go far enough, according to Age Concern New Zealand.

National president Evelyn Weir said there is nothing new for elder abuse and neglect prevention or addressing social isolation - both widespread issues which Age Concern works to address through its services in communities throughout the country.

However, Mrs Weir welcomes Thursday’s Budget announcements including an additional $70 million for aged care and dementia services, $48 million for more elective operations such as hip replacements and cataracts, and $14 million extra towards the SuperGold Card off-peak public transport concession scheme.

She said it goes some way to recognise New Zealand’s ageing population - with the number of people 65-years-old and over estimated to double by 2028 - but it still falls short after years of under-funding.

“The new money will help in some parts, but not others in desperate need, such as elder abuse and neglect prevention and addressing social isolation,” she said.

Age Concern New Zealand has long been pushing for improved services for older people, including access to healthcare, and Mrs Weir said the $48 million increase for more elective surgery recognises this growing need.

The $70 million extra for aged care and dementia services includes $20 million for home-based support services to help older people live in their homes longer, with fewer people treated in residential care. It also includes $33.2 million in aged residential care subsidies over four years and $12 million extra for dementia-bed subsidies to encourage further investment in the beds.

Mrs Weir also commends plans to develop a Housing Warrant of Fitness system with standards to help ensure rental properties are warm, dry, safe and healthy.

The Government will trial the system on 69,000 Housing New Zealand properties, before plans to extend it to other social housing providers.

Mrs Weir said many older people throughout the country rent their homes and will benefit from moves to ensure they are up to standard.

Age Concern New Zealand is a charitable organisation which informs and advises on older people’s rights and well-being, income and access to health services, as well as providing services including accredited visiting and support, elder abuse and neglect prevention work, and health promotion.

ENDS

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