Cost of living: New Zealanders struggling to cope, say government tax cut not enough

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Demand for food parcels is skyrocketing at Butterbean Motivation Food Bank.

“We’re not able to keep up, we’re just doing our best and the hardest part is judging who needs it the most,” said founder Dave Letele.

With the cost of food rising, Letele says more and more people are struggling to survive.

“Working class people, middle class people who are all of a sudden on the streets of struggle,” he says.

And no one knows this struggle better than volunteer and single mom of eight, Carey Brown.

“We don’t really go out on weekends because of gas prices, I can’t afford gas, I can barely come here every day,” Brown says.

Supermarket stores are also increasingly becoming a strain on his wallet.

“There are times when I can get things, but there are times when I have to miss them and I have to get them next week,” Brown said.

She is one of many relieved by the reduction in the government’s 25 cents per liter tax on fuel and the halving of public transport costs.

“Anything is better than nothing,” says a Kiwi.

“Hopefully this stays rather than just a short-term fix,” said another.

But there are calls for more action.

“Remove the GST on fruits and vegetables and work harder on supermarket prices,” one person said.

Party leaders also say the government should go further.

“When you think about the pressure that’s happening with food prices up 13%, weekly rents have gone up by more than $150,” said National Party leader Christopher Luxon.

“I think we should give back substantial tax cuts in cash, a carbon tax rebate of about $3,000 per family per year,” ACT party leader David Seymour added.

“We would go further and say that public transport should be free,” said Green Party leader James Shaw.

The finance minister promises more relief is due when this year’s budget is released in May.

“We are continuously working to ensure that we are helping people get through this major inflationary spree,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

But for people like Brown, that relief is needed now.

“They are doing what they can but we are also doing what we can so I think they should be doing a bit more,” she said.

“Families should never have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table,” says Letele.

But that is the sad reality of today.

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