Inequality not growing, Govt claims

Inequality not growing, Govt claims

The Government is denying a Statistics NZ report shows inequality is growing in New Zealand.

Earlier this week, Statistics NZ said the richest 10 percent of Kiwis now hold 60 percent of the country's wealth, up from 55 percent a decade ago.

The top 1 percent of Kiwis have hoarded 18 percent of the wealth, up from 16.4 percent in 2003. At the other end, the bottom 40 percent of Kiwis share only 3 percent of the country's wealth.

"It's happening all around the world, and we think we could be immune from it? No, we cannot," Labour deputy leader Annette King told Paul Henry on Friday.

"But what's been interesting to me this week is National ministers have spent the whole week denying the Statistics [NZ] report, saying it's wrong."

Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Steven Joyce says the report "didn't say" inequality was getting worse, and for households, "it's exactly the same" as it was a decade ago.

"New Zealand has about roughly the same income distribution and wealth distribution as the whole OECD. If you want to improve that, you do all the things the Labour Party says we shouldn't do, which is encourage more business, investment and growth."

He answered questions about the new Statistics NZ report in Parliament yesterday.

"Fifty percent of total household net worth is held by 10 percent of households -- that's the same as reported in 2003, 2004 in Statistics NZ's survey of family income and employment," he said on behalf of Minister of Finance Bill English.

He says the Government is doing "everything it can" to help people on low incomes.