Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says cost of living payment didn't go far enough, hits out at beneficiaries being excluded

The Greens are hitting out at the Government after it excluded Kiwis who are receiving benefits from the cost of living payment. 

Kiwis started receiving the payment of $116.67 - the first of three - on Monday with the second and third portions coming on the first business days of September and October. 

It works out at $350 and will go to Kiwis who earn $70,000 or less, aren't entitled to the Winter Energy Payment and meet several other criteria - roughly 2.1 million New Zealanders. 

The payment is aimed to help support Kiwis as the cost of essentials soars but doesn't include New Zealanders on a benefit. 

It comes after inflation increased a whopping 7.3 percent, the largest jump in 32 years, in the June 2022 quarter. 

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson told AM Early on Thursday the payment didn't go far enough. 

Marama said excluding beneficiaries means those who need the payment the most can't get it. 

"We're really clear, it's got to go surely to the people on the lowest, lowest incomes. So the targeted approach should actually have included people receiving income support, people on the lowest incomes," she told AM Early host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

"It misses out those who are receiving the winter energy payment, which, as you know, is much welcomed but still really small and people are really struggling to make ends meet. 

"Those on the lowest incomes should have been included and been able to receive this payment."

Davidson said while she was very supportive of the payment, it didn't go far enough.

"It missed out those receiving income support, those who are receiving a winter energy payment which are our lowest income family and people. They are missing out on this crucial payment and they are the ones really having the hardest time trying to make ends meet right now."

Davidson says Kiwis who are receiving benefits should be getting the cost of living payment.
Davidson says Kiwis who are receiving benefits should be getting the cost of living payment. Photo credit: AM

She isn't the only person calling for beneficiaries to be included in the cost of living payment. 

Former Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett told AM on Wednesday even though she doesn't agree with the payment, she believes beneficiaries are the first people who should be receiving it. 

"I think they need it more than anyone. I mean we are all feeling the pinch. It doesn't matter what you are earning, you are feeling it when you go to fill up the car and when you go to buy your groceries," she told AM.

Bennett was surprised the cost of living payment didn't include Kiwis on the benefits.      

"I would've thought those on benefits would've been almost the first port of call," she said. 

"I don't agree with the payment to be quite frank and I just think it costs way too much and hasn't been done properly, but if you were going to do it, wouldn't you give it to those who need it the most?" 

The cost of living payment has come under heavy scrutiny since it was rolled out on Monday.
Several issues emerged with the implementation of the payment after it was revealed Kiwis living overseas had received it.

The Government also came under fire after it was revealed only 1.32 million people received the payment, fewer than the 2.1 million the Government said were estimated to be eligible.

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) said this is expected to increase with the next rounds of payments as more tax returns are processed.

National leader Christopher Luxon.
National leader Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub

National leader Christopher Luxon told AM on Wednesday the Government has "lost the plot" and the payment was an "utter, utter shambles and a total joke".

"You literally can't make this stuff up, it's become the political version of the Office," Luxon told AM co-host Ryan Bridge, referencing Ricky Gervais' immensely popular television show.

"This thing was made up on the fly in response to pressure from us [National] and the media. You've now got people getting it who shouldn't be, you've got 800,000 people that are eligible that aren't getting it and the Government has got no clue what's happening."

ACT leader David Seymour said he has heard from individuals as far away as London who haven't been in New Zealand for years but got the payment.

"The problem lies in the novelty of the scheme, it was rushed together at the last moment for all the wrong reasons," he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday morning defended the payment saying the Government wanted to administer it quickly.

"Because we've used our automated IRD system, it's not always possible for us to decipher [someone is a resident in New Zealand]. This will not be the majority of New Zealanders," she told RNZ.

"The alternative to weeding out these issues would have been an application-based process. That would have taken, as you can imagine, a long time and as you would appreciate, we may well not have received those most vulnerable who we want to reach."

Watch the full interview with Marama Davidson above.