Wealthy Kiwis will get winter bill subsidies

  • 14/12/2017
Wealthy Kiwis will get winter bill subsidies
Photo credit: Getty

Rather than singling out poorer families to receive the Government's new Winter Energy Payment, the Government is relying on wealthy Kiwis to opt out of the scheme.

The payments were officially announced as part of the Government's families package at the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update on Thursday.

Singles with no dependents will be eligible for $450 a year to help cover their winter heating bills, while couples or singles with dependents will get $700 a year.

All Kiwis on a main benefit, including Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, will be eligible for the cash payment.

But so will any New Zealander over 65, regardless of their assets, savings or income.

"We wanted to make sure it was as easy to implement and efficient to implement as possible," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said, defending the decision not to means-test.

"If somebody doesn't believe they need it they can opt out."

The total package will cost $1.8 billion a year.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said 1600 Kiwis die each year because of cold housing in winter, while thousands more end up in hospital.

"That's not right, and we can do better," she said.

Anybody who leaves the country for more than four weeks over the winter months will be ruled ineligible.