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Monday, March 1

A million Kiwis to get increased payments


Benefits and Superannuation payments are to increase from 1 April, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

The increase of 1.96% means benefits and pension rates keep pace with increases to the cost of living.

"National is committed to ensuring fairness to New Zealanders who rely on Government support," says Ms Bennett.

On top of the flat adjustment for cost of living increases, Superannuation rates will be further adjusted to bring them up to 66% of the net average wage.

Therefore, New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's Pension rates will increase by a total 2.31% ensuring older New Zealanders benefit from increasing wage levels.

"It was a manifesto commitment to maintain super and veteran payments at 66 per cent of the net average weekly wage. National is sticking to that commitment," says Ms Bennett.

Welfare benefits, foster care allowance, student allowances and loans will also increase from 1 April 2010 and income thresholds for the Community Services Card will rise as well.

More than a million super annuitants, students and beneficiaries will benefit from the changes.

The increase in the rates of benefits and allowances reflects the 1.96% change in the Consumers Price Index for the year to 31 December 2009.

Examples of the increases in the after tax weekly rates are:


* For a married couple both receiving New Zealand Superannuation, up $11.04 to $489.42
* For a married couple receiving the Unemployment Benefit with no children, up $6.22 to $323.52
* For a single unemployed person 25 and over, receiving the Unemployment Benefit, up $3.73 to $194.12
* For a single person 18 and over receiving the Invalid's Benefit, up $4.66 to $242.63
* For a sole parent, receiving the Domestic Purposes Benefit, up $5.34 to $278.04
* For a person receiving Foster Care Allowance for a child 14 and over, up $3.63 to $188.88
* For a single student 24 and over, studying away from home receiving a Student Allowance, up $3.73 to $194.12
* Student loan living cost weekly maximum increase up $3.14 to $163.38


"The increases announced today will increase New Zealand's spending on benefit and pensions by more than $240 million per year," says Ms Bennett.