No retaliation over UK health charge

  • 09/02/2016
No retaliation over UK health charge

New Zealand won't be playing tit for tat with the British government after the announcement of a new health charge that'll soon be imposed on Kiwis living in the UK.

The new £200 (NZ$437) charge, which will help fund the UK's free health system, comes into force on April 6.

It'll apply to those wanting to stay for more than six months or those applying to extend their stay in Britain.

New Zealanders aged between 18 and 30 on two-year work visas will pay a discounted charge of £150 (NZ$328).

The two countries have a reciprocal health agreement, but Prime Minister John Key says the Government isn't planning to make changes for Brits living in New Zealand.

"The rules aren't equal at the moment," he told reporters today.

"If a British person comes to New Zealand and needs to go to the doctor they actually pay a payment for that.

"If you go in the UK you don't, because the NHS [national health service] is free."

Mr Key admits the change does chip away at the rights of Kiwis living in the UK.

"We got a better deal than other people, but I think the probability of eliminating the surcharge is pretty low."

Britain's Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced last year to all non-European Union nationals but New Zealanders and Australians were exempt.

In six months it raised £100 million but the British government now wants Kiwis and Aussies to contribute.

Labour leader Andrew Little says Mr Key needs to use his close relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron to seek a change.

"John Key's got all these great friendships with all these great world leaders, including David Cameron. I would expect him to be on the phone instantly saying this isn't good enough," Mr Little said.

"New Zealanders are big travellers to the UK and big contributors to the UK and we've got to knock this on the head."