Cambridge Grey Power president Val Massey says the changes the Government is making for seniors through its Wellbeing Budget include some which have long been advocated by Grey Power New Zealand.
An announcement made at the May 20 New Zealand Grey Power Federation annual conference in Wellington said $7.7 million had been set aside for seniors in the Government’s Wellbeing Budget. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Seniors Minister Tracey Martin told delegates the money will go into upgrading the SuperGold Card, funding digital literacy training for seniors, and cover changes to ACC that will better support superannuitants who are injured.
The measures were given the thumbs up by local Grey Power leadership. Both president Val Massey and secretary Dave Wilson were at the meeting, and said much of what was being addressed had been on Grey Power’s radar for some time.
“The upgrade to the SuperGold Card was something we have been advocating for some time,” Val said. “There are still people who don’t know what the card offers … this will make it far easier for card-holders to access the information.”
The SuperGold Card is a discounts and concessions card for seniors and veterans. The new funding will cover the building of a new digital platform for the card, set to be launched before the end of the year, and create a new SuperGold app linked to the website. The idea is to put data around using the card and updated information on where discounts can be found within easy reach of seniors.
Val said the meeting was told that seniors are the largest purchasing demographic of New Zealand, and that they are adapting to and embracing technology faster than anyone else.
“We also heard that 40 percent of seniors have incomes less than $100 a week from sources other than superannuation. That makes it really important for seniors to access the discounts, and for more businesses to come on board and make discounts available. Seniors are a powerful and growing purchasing bloc.”
Delegates were told that the Budget contains $600,000 for the provision of computer training to seniors who needed to upgrade their technology skills.
Changes to ACC, set to begin on July 1, will mean eligible seniors will no longer have to choose between receiving NZ Superannuation or ACC weekly payments. Older people who are entitled to weekly ACC compensation for a personal injury will be able to receive those payments along with their NZ Superannuation or the Veteran’s Pension for up to two years. Delegates were told that change would allow an injured person’s financial situation to more closely reflect their income.
Among other topics raised was pensioner housing, the downgrading of postal and Kiwi Bank services and health issues for seniors, particularly around dentistry.
A mandate was given for Federation to lobby the Ministry of Health to undertake a study in which rural mobile dental clinics also visit aged care facilities to provide dental hygiene services and referral to dental services as needed.