Pensioners forgoing food, power as cost of living crisis bites

Pensioners are being forced to sacrifice food, electricity and petrol to keep up with the increasing costs of living.

It comes as AM was recently contacted by a 91-year-old woman who said she has friends who are living off two-minute noodles due to the increasing costs of fresh food, rent, and electricity.


Another pensioner Dave Stonyer told AM a huge number of people are struggling as their superannuation doesn't cover their costs.

"Having worked till the usual retirement age I am now finding that 20-odd years later I am now struggling," Stonyer told Melissa Chan-Green.

"There's enough money coming in to pay rent, just, but food is the biggest cost."

In April, the Government increased superannuation rates by $52 per fortnight for single pensioners living alone and by $80 per fortnight for a couple. But Stonyer said the increase is "barely noticeable".

"I really am somewhat fearful of the next 12 to 18 months because I can see that the income that I get, the superannuation, is simply not going to cut it," he said.

Stonyer said he has to think very carefully about putting petrol in the car and mostly just drives to his medical appointments at the hospital.

"It's getting harder and harder to think about going anywhere at all."

It comes as a new survey found Kiwis are cutting hot showers and heating in winter to cope with the increasing cost of living.

Consumer Advocacy Council chair Deborah Hart told AM the cost of living crisis is getting dire for some people.

The Consumer Advocacy Council, set up by the Government, commissioned the survey to test the concerns of electricity consumers in October.

It found one in four consumers cut back on showers and other hot water use. It also found around one out of two consumers were often only heating the room they were in, and around the same number were often putting on extra clothes to stay warm.

Hart said while the Government's Winter Energy Payment does help, it isn't particularly well targetted.

"We have still got a lot of people who are making a decision to either heat or eat," she said.

The latest Powerswitch data shows potential savings from switching electricity providers grew by 24 percent in the past year, with the median saving now sitting at $385 a year.

Hart urges consumers to talk to their retailer about their plans and use Consumer NZ’s Powerswitch tool to make sure they are on the right plan.