Budget relief needed

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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Many Waikato people are finding times tough and looking for relief from today's Budget.

A quick Waikato Times sample from around the region reflected a feeling of pessimism and frustration with the cost of living and lack of spending on health and education. Most of those spoken to felt worse off than at the same time last year. "All my bills keep increasing all the time but there is no pay rise at the same rate," one of those the Times spoke to said.

"I am worse off because of increases in necessary basic items needed to live and no increase in income," said another.

The pessimistic mood was no aberration, Hamilton Budgeting Advisory Trust manager Clare Mataira said. "We have a very low-wage economy and that makes it incredibly difficult for people to get ahead.

"People are having difficulty keeping up with their power bills. They might be able to buy food but they can't afford to buy the good food that their kids really need. Rents in Hamilton are incredibly high. In this city you are looking at paying $350 a week for a half-decent house. If your weekly income is around $600 then that is more than half of it gone right there, just in paying the rent." "The government have indicated they are looking at giving families some sort of a boost with this Budget, so it will be interesting to see exactly what sort of tactics they are going to take there." Mataira acknowledged some people aren't spending the money they do have wisely. "We live in a consumer society. People need to learn how to cope with that. They need to learn how to say no." Not all comments were negative. A Taupo dairy farmer said he was in a better position than last year on the back of a good milk payout. A Tokoroa woman who had recently sold her business was also better off but wanted lower taxes.

Finance Minister Bill English has said there won't be a lolly scramble.

"It's a budget about sustaining growth in the economy and sharing the benefits of it. There's a lot of people who have worked hard over the last four or five years through tougher times. They will see the prospect of a stronger economy delivering higher wages and more jobs.

BUT RELIEF COULD BE IN SIGHT

Prime Minister John Key has floated the idea of hitting the election campaign with a tax-cut promise.

He says middle New Zealand is the most in need, and the tax relief would be likely to be on personal income.

The National-led Government will today unveil its sixth Budget, returning the books to the black.

The surplus would be slim, but Key said there would be "freeboard" for extra spending down the track. "I'm not going to rule that out," he said.

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Asked who was most in need of relief, Key said: "Middle New Zealand pays a fair bit of tax and often doesn't get a lot in return."

The Government must also factor in paying down debt and resuming contributions to the Cullen super fund.

Finance Minister Bill English was not enthusiastic about possible tax cuts, saying it was "just speculation" that National would campaign on them.

Told of Key's remarks, English said: "I would always agree with the prime minister."

Earlier English signalled there would be no windfall for first-home buyers.

- Waikato Times

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