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Pensioners cutting back on the basics

Age Concern New Zealand Media Release 17 August 2012

Pensioners cutting back on the basics.
Results of the Retirement Expenditure Survey (Fin Ed Centre, Massey University ) revealing what older people are spending on and how much may come as a shock to some but not Age Concern.

We know that most older people are trying to live on the pension and a little extra,” said Ann Martin, CEO of Age Concern New Zealand today. Those who have to live on the pension only, can really struggle to make ends meet.”

Age Concern is of the view that $348 per week (New Zealand Super) is not enough to buy the basics: electricity, telephone, rates, food, non-food eg shoes, soap, transport, cultural and medical.

Older people in this group are particularly vulnerable to hardship, especially if their health costs are high and / or they are faced with unexpected one-off expenses like a house repair, a trip to the dentist, a new pair of glasses, or an airfare to get to a tangi. These are the kinds of expenses that can tip people from hardship into poverty.

“What happens is the pensioner cuts back on these necessities. They don’t turn heating on, some reduce their grocery spend. Buckets end up being a long term fix for a leaking roof. They pull back on social activities, medications and doctor visits. Unfortunately this often leads to their having greater susceptibility to illness, hospitalisation and rest home admission, Martin says, and this in turn may be a significant cost to Government.”

Government has been advised by Age Concern that what is needed is: a pension which meets the cost of the basics, more regular CPI adjustments and a community services card with scope to reduce the cost of electricity / gas; general dental care, eye care and visits to GPs for holders aged 65+.

© Scoop Media

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