The Government has announced benefits, student support payments and superannuation will go up 7.2% from April 1 to match the cost of inflation.

This means student allowance or student loan living costs will go up about $20 a week.

A couple on a benefit with children will get $40 more a week, and a sole parent will receive $31 more a week.

The changes will cost the Government an extra $311 million and will affect around 1.4 million New Zealanders.

“In a cost of living crisis we can't leave behind those on the lowest incomes,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said in a post-cabinet announcement this afternoon. 

“I know every little bit helps.”

Government cuts lowering voting age and alcohol reform to focus on the cost of living

The Government is postponing or dropping a range of initiatives to free up money to focus on the cost of living and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced that today $1 billion of savings will be reallocated to address the cost of living.

Here’s some of the things that got the axe:

The Government will not introduce a law to lower the voting age to 16 for general elections. 

Instead the focus will be on lowering the voting age for local body elections (aka city councils), which they say has more support in Parliament.

The prime minister said changing the voting age for general elections requires the support of at least 75% of MPs or a successful binding referendum, and it was clear they do not have a 75% majority to support that change.

Changing the voting age for local elections only needs a regular majority (just over half).

Hipkins said legislation to lower the voting age for local elections would be introduced this term and considered by the next parliament.

“Giving the vote to 16-and-17 year olds is something I do support,” Hipkins said.

Alcohol reform on sponsorship, advertising and pricing will be deferred 

This will be pushed back to April 2024.

A number of transport initiatives will be deferred 

This is so the transport agency, Waka Kotahi, can focus on fixing roads after Cyclone Gabrielle. 

  • A programme to reduce speed limits will now only focus on the most dangerous 1% of highways.
  • The clean car upgrade scheme, where people could swap their old car for a discount on a vehicle with lower emissions, will be stopped
  • Public transport initiatives will be limited to just five big cities: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch

A scheme to get refunds when you recycle drink containers will be deferred

Hipkins said the scheme does help to reduce waste, but adds small additional costs to households, “and we don't want to be introducing those costs right now,” but the Government would look into it in the future when the time is right to do so.

More stories: 

‘Dungeons and Dragons come to life’: Three NZers on why they LARP

"It basically feels like spending the weekend in the sun, which is kind of rare these days."

Students tell us what polyfest means to them

The festival is back after a four year hiatus.

Lowering NZ's voting age: Why this shouldn't go to a referendum

What if women’s right to vote had been left to a referendum only men could vote in?