Workers' survey shows majority think they don't earn enough to meet costs as Chris Hipkins hints at changes to tax system

The incoming Prime Minister was out selling himself as a bread-and-butter politician in his first round of interviews on Monday.

That included a hint about the fairness of the tax system for those struggling to get ahead.

It comes as a survey of workers shows the majority of people believe they don't earn enough to meet everyday costs - and these costs are predicted to keep going only one way.

People Newshub spoke to said their salary staying stagnant was a problem for them.

"My wages going up, that would really help," one person said.

"My salary not growing for three years," another added.

"Just a pay to match inflation," a third person said.

The answers were similar when looking at a survey of 55,000 people from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

"Needing to do extra hours, needing to make decisions about what they prioritise in their weekly budgets," said Melissa Ansell-Bridges, national secretary of CTU.

When asked whether income has kept up with the cost of living, 54.8 percent of people surveyed said no and according to 58.6 percent of people, groceries were the main concern.

To help with costs, 61.2 percent suggested increasing wages and just 15.9 percent wanted tax cuts. 

Incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he's listening.

"What I think I do bring is an understanding of the day-to-day lives of New Zealand families and the sort of pressure they'll be facing about their power bill and petrol bill," he told AM on Monday.

But when it comes to tax, he'd like a fairer system.

"There are some New Zealanders who aren't contributing their fair share," he added.

"If you work hard, you should be able to get ahead. There are people now working really, really hard - some of them might be working multiple jobs - and they're not feeling that they can get ahead."

Understanding business concerns is another must-do - so what does the sector want?

"Immigration settings have been a real pain point so that deserves attention and also any policies that impact on business in terms of adding extra cost," said Catherine Beard, director of advocacy at Business NZ.

Whether it's businesses or workers, cost pressures are not easing anytime soon. Inflation figures out this week will confirm the record level of pain.

"We are expecting an annual print of 7.4 percent,  that'd be the highest in 30 years. The Reserve Bank is 7.5 percent but the market is slightly less at 7.1 percent," said ASB economist Mike Smith.

But the glimmer of good news is that inflation is easing globally and could flow through to our economy sometime this year. The new PM will be hoping that happens well before the October election.

The Opposition isn't phased about the change in the team.

"Essentially you've had an open-side flanker move to a number eight - a bit of a reshuffle," said National Party leader Christopher Luxon.