Cost of living crisis: Struggling Kiwis says fuel tax cut good start but nowhere near enough

Kiwis say temporary fuel tax cuts are a good start but they're nowhere near enough to help struggling families. 

Mum of five Krystine Nation and concerned Kiwi Steve Christodoulou joined AM last week to detail how the cost of living crisis was hitting their families.

The pair returned to the show on Tuesday to respond to the Government's new measures aimed at addressing increasing expenses. 

On Tuesday the Government announced it is slashing 25 cents per litre off fuel tax and halving public transport costs for an initial three months to help ease the financial pressure at the petrol pump. 

The tax reduction - expected to cost $350 million - will come into effect on Tuesday and save motorists $11-17 per average fill-up, depending on the vehicle. Halving the cost of public transport - expected to come into force from April - comes with a $25 million to $40 million price tag. 

The cuts come as other Government measures previously announced are set to kick in, such as an increase to the benefit, minimum wage and Family Tax Credits in April, and the Winter Energy Payment in May. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also finally admitted the cost of living was a crisis after refusing to do so for a week.

Nation told AM on Tuesday while anything is good, it's nowhere near enough. She said she was forced to stop taking her kids to extracurricular activities for a few weeks in response to petrol prices, but hopefully they can return.  

"A lot of the things my children have to do are out of town so we made a plan to cut those for a few weeks just to get some money behind us for emergencies because we haven't been able to maintain our savings. So that just means a few weeks of them not being able to go to their cadets and hip hop and swimming lessons." 

But she said with the changes she's not in a better position than she was last week when she first raised the issue, she's just not any worse. 

"If it comes through that petrol is exactly the same as it was last week then we can go back to doing that but we still are exactly where we were last week, no different." 

She said the increases in benefits and Working for Families also won't do much because it will go straight to increased costs during winter. 

"This isn't relief what they're offering, because we are about to come into winter so there are going to be a whole lot of new payments that we haven't had over summer. 

"While the people that do qualify for these payments won't be any worse off, those of us that don't qualify for the payments, we are still going to be worse off. 

"Those that do get these payments won't see the benefits of them until about spring because they're about to get a whole lot of new costs anyway. Nothing has changed. From everything that I read and saw yesterday, nothing has changed." 

She said she still doesn't feel the PM actually understands what people are going through. 

Christodoulou agreed, saying it's a good start but that's all it is. 

"Things are still up and things are not going to change overnight. And when we've still got the regional fuel tax here in Auckland… it does add a little bit of pressure." 

He said the cuts are great but don't make a huge difference when rents and food prices are still increasing significantly. 

"25 cents a litre is fantastic [but] my rent is still up $150 a week on average, 13 percent increase in my grocery bill every week you know it all adds up."

Both said they feel the Government has only cut tax on fuel because of recent poll results, not because they actually understand how hard it is for Kiwis. 

The latest 1News-Kantar Public poll released on Thursday night showed National as the most supported political party for the first time since January 2020, up 7 points to 39 percent while Labour fell 3 points to 37 percent. The Greens were steady on 9 percent and ACT fell 3 points to 8 percent.

It comes amid high inflation and the skyrocketing cost of living. Speaking earlier on AM Cameron Bagrie warned while it's tough, the Government has to reign in spending to dampen inflation. 

"Taming inflation is not growth or asset price friendly so I think the second half of 2022 is going to be pretty tough and there is going to be a little bit of paying the piper."