28 Feb 2014

Rise in rent help for elderly 'years overdue'

1:51 pm on 28 February 2014

Grey Power is calling for an increase in the money elderly New Zealanders get to help them with their rent, saying one is years overdue.

A revision of official figures from the Treasury and Statistics New Zealand indicates half of elderly renters are in poverty.

Grey Power says most of them are people who have always been low wage earners and have not bought their own home nor had the chance to save much.

It says their situation would be helped if the accommodation supplement, which has not been raised for nine years, was increased.

Grey Power president Roy Reid says that reflects what his organisation has thought for years. "Most of the people in trouble have probably been in the low end of the wage scale all their working life and they haven't had the opportunity to save additional money for retirement.

"It's time the Government had a good look at it and revised the accommodation supplement."

Mr Reid says even some people who own their own homes struggle with rising rates and power and insurance costs.

A professor of public policy at Victoria University, Jonathan Boston, says that over the past nine years house prices, and therefore rents, have been increasing - "which means that a higher proportion of people who are eligible for the accommodation supplement are sitting on the maximum rate but they can't go any higher".

Dr Boston says national superannuation does not need to be adjusted, but the accommodation supplement must be increased.