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Grey Power Greets Budget with Cautious Optimism

Grey Power Greets Budget with Cautious Optimism

National president of the Grey Power Federation, Tom O’Connor has greeted the Government’s budget, announced today, with cautious optimism for some aspects and disappointment for others.

“We are pleased to note that national superannuation has been left untouched and that the age of entitlement has not been increased as some people have been suggesting.”

O’Connor said he was also pleased that Government contributions to the superannuation fund will be resumed in the 2020-2021 year, two years earlier than originally planned. “It probably should never have been stopped but the resumption will be welcome.”

“The new bowel cancer screening programme is a commendable initiative but perhaps should have been introduced first to the regions where there is the highest incidence of bowel cancer, in South Canterbury and Soutland.”

O’Connor said the big issue for Grey Power was the availability of elective surgery and, while there will be $96 million year for the next four years that was down from the $98 million in the last years four year budget forecast.

“As the 20 district health boards are funded on a population basis it is hard to know what these figures mean in real terms and, as I understand it, they will have to undertake 2000 procedures on their own before qualifying for any new money.”

O’Connor said the growth in the population of people over 65 and the increase in the number of new procedures available were not few factors and there should have been better forward planning for the serious problem some older people were now in.

“The reality is that many of our hospitals simply can’t cope with the demand for elective surgery to keep people mobile and in their own homes. That very serious matter needed a major injection of new money but, as I read the figures, that has not happened. At the moment we have thousands of people who are rapidly becoming immobile while they wait for hip and knee operations and this budget, on the face of it, does not address that problem. Once elderly people become immobile it is often very difficult to regain mobility even after a hip or knee operation.”

O’Connor said, the announced $2.2billion for Vote Health was still only about three percent of GDP but the increase in the Government’s tax take, rising surplus and falling debt were all signs that the economy was in a healthy state. “That is difficult to reconcile with some recent announcements regarding off peak travel for SuperGold card holders. “Mr English has announced $2.1 billion for transport and schools. However late last year the Ministry of Transport told local authorities that government funding will change from individual fare reimbursement to a bulk funding model capped at $28 million, for the next five years, with minor adjustments for inflation.

“We were also promised that there would be no further changes to the scheme but then they have announced the introduction of a separate card for the off peak travel scheme which would only cost $5 but that has since risen to $15.”

O’Connor said, overall, the budget would not do a lot for elderly people in the short term but there were hopeful signs that things could improve in the years ahead if the economy continues to improve.


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