Increase in winter energy payment a relief for pensioners

The boost comes as colder temperatures coincide with increased financial pressure for many.
The boost comes as colder temperatures coincide with increased financial pressure for many. Photo credit: Getty

A doubling of the Government's winter energy payment is being welcomed as huge relief by pensioners.

The boost comes as colder temperatures coincide with increased financial pressure for many amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than one million Kiwis on lower incomes will be eligible to receive the emergency payment, which will last 22 weeks from May 1 to October 1.

Couples and people with dependent children will now get $63.64 a week while those living alone will get $40.91.

"At a time when people are required to spend more time at home consuming more power, this direct payment takes the fear of the electricity bill away for our most vulnerable," said Fletcher Tabuteau, New Zealand First's deputy leader and spokesperson for energy.

Pensioner Katrina Richards told Newshub the payment came as a relief and was a "lovely surprise".

"There's so much negativity going on at the moment and so much concern and a lot of older folk like myself are worrying about how we're going to cope with COVID and the onset of winter," she said. 

"I'm sure I speak on behalf of most of the elderly population when I say that it's a blessing in disguise that we have this facility available to us.

"I look forward to continuing to feel safe and warm during the coming months."

Although the payment has been welcomed by many who desperately need the help, there have been complaints in the past that wealthy over-65s are also getting the money.

campaign has also been set up to allow those more well-off to donate their energy payments, or even their full superannuation payment, to those in a tougher economic situation.

The full list of who is eligible to receive the winter energy payment can be found here.

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