Govt's 'duty' to support Kiwis amid cost of living crisis - Ardern

Source: 1News

The impact of inflation is something the Government must "try and support New Zealanders through" as the first of three cost of living payments kick in from Monday, Jacinda Ardern says.

More than 2 million New Zealanders will wake up to an extra $116 on Monday, the first of three instalments of the Government’s cost of living payment.

Anyone who earns below $70,000 a year, is a New Zealand tax resident aged 18 and over, and who is not receiving the winter energy payment is entitled to the cash boost.

Two further $116 instalments will be automatically put into eligible people's bank accounts on September 1 and October 3.

READ MORE: Cost of living support payments begin today

“No one wants to be in the situation that the globe finds itself in right now,” the prime minister told Breakfast on Monday.

“Across many democracies and economies we can compare ourselves to, we are seeing those increases in the cost of living as inflation is relatively high in many of those areas.

“That’s something that we need to respond to – these are not things that you anticipate as a Government but it’s our duty to make sure that we try and support New Zealanders through.”

The cost of living payment comes alongside the reduction in the fuel excise tax and the halving of public transport fees until January next year.

READ MORE: Government extends cost of living support measures

Ardern acknowledged the fact some Kiwis based overseas will be able to collect the automatic payment in the face of criticism from National that people would be shocked to learn of this.

“By using that simple design, there will be a small number of individuals who we may not be able to tell are not in New Zealand. Again, relative to the number who are eligible and will rightly receive it, it’s a small number," she said.

“At the same time, I’d rather that simplicity because the alternative is that you have this system where you apply for something and we know we wouldn’t have reached the people we needed to.”

Ardern also responded to criticism that the cost of living payment doesn’t go far enough for Kiwis struggling to cope with the impact of inflation.

“We know that the cost of living has increased. We see the inflation figures tell us what’s happening in our economy right now and so this is in response to the fact that we are experiencing high levels of inflation now and forecasting is that will peak and then come away.”

She said the cost of living crisis has also exposed “a problem in our grocery sector in New Zealand”, adding, "We do need to address that as well".

A Commerce Commission report released in March found that competition in the supermarket industry – a duopoly of Foodstuffs and Woolworths, which made up a combined 90% of the market share – was not working well for consumers.

“We found that there are a lot of problems. We are working hard to resolve those now because yes, we do think we’ve got a problem specifically on food in New Zealand as well.”