Revealed: Few opting out of the Government's winter energy payments

Documents obtained by Newshub show of 1 million eligible Kiwis, only 1,975 have been confirmed as giving up the winter energy payment in the first month - just 0.2 percent.

The families package announced by the Government last year includes the payment, which is available to help with the cost of heating homes during winter for superannuitants and beneficiaries.

But the Ministry of Social Development confirmed to Newshub it doesn't track what the money is spent on, meaning people don't have to spend it on warming their homes.

You can get $20.46 a week if you're single with no dependent children, and $31.82 a week if you have a partner or dependent children.

winter energy payment
The Ministry of Social Development confirmed to Newshub it doesn't track what the money is spent on. Photo credit: Newshub.

It is being paid from July 1 to September 30, 2018. From 2019, it will be paid from May 1 to October 1.

There is no requirement for recipients to prove the winter energy payment was spent on their power bill.

ACT leader David Seymour told Newshub the payments should go.

"The winter energy payments should be scrapped. There should be money for hardship for people in genuine need, not just a presumption that everyone can splash the cash just because the Government thinks it's politically popular.

"It's always been a rort - good on those people who have given the money back. But what does it say to the other 99.8 percent? I guess their winter energy payment could be used for a nice warm bottle of scotch or a discounted getaway to Fiji."

When Newshub asked Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni if she was concerned about the lack of accountability over how the payment is used, she said no.

"We do know that over the winter months people have increased heating bills and the reality is we have far too many people in this country that are admitted into hospitals with respiratory problems, with pneumonia over the winter months. Our senior citizens are often overrepresented in those numbers so we know they'll be getting that payment - they will have increased heating costs, so that money will help in that department.

Ms Sepuloni told Newshub Mr Seymour's comments were hypocritical.

Newshub.

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