$350 cost of living payment about 'softening the edges' - PM

May 23, 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended the Government's cost of living payment for people earning up to $70k in the face of criticism.

Last week, economic and political commentator Bernard Hickey labelled the one-off payment of $350, part of Budget 2022, as "a few crumbs out there".

The payment will be going to around 2.1 million Kiwis who are earning up to $70,000, but who are not in line for the Winter Energy Payment.

The $350 will be spread out over three months from August, working out to be about $27 extra a week.

READ MORE: Budget 2022: $350 cost of living payment 'crumbs' - Hickey

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has ruled out extending the payment past three months.

Ardern told Breakfast on Monday the cost of living package was about "softening the edges".

"I don't think that it would have been possible to have delivered something that would have made all of these pressures go away. I think we need to be really upfront about that. But it was about doing what we could," she said.

The Prime Minister said the payment and other measures, such as the extension of fuel tax and road user charge reductions and half price public transport, is to try and get people through the tail-end of when inflation will continue to be high.

Ardern denied the payment was a "band-aid" and said incomes had grown more than the cost of living under Labour.

READ MORE: Budget 2022: $350 payment extension 'not on the cards' - Robertson

Her denial was in a response to an interview on Friday with Aucklander Jessie Tuatari, who said the payment does not ease anxieties.

Tuatari said she felt the payment was a "band-aid". She described herself as "drowning" and said the payment would only keep her head above water.

Ardern said the Government had not managed to reverse a decades-old issue of people's incomes needing to grow, but it had made gains.

"We just need to keep going," she said.

"Since 2017 they have grown more than the cost of living, but we are trying to catch up for some periods where we haven't had the growth that's needed for people to really feel like they're getting ahead."


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