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July 25, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Death Becoming More Attractive Fiscal Choice

If you can’t remember the last time you bought cheese, you’re not alone. New Zealanders are experiencing higher living costs across the board, and students are no exception.

For the year ending 30 June 2011, petrol prices have increased by 20 per cent, food by seven per cent, and electricity by 7.8 per cent. The consumer price index (CPI) rose by 5.3 per cent, the biggest single increase since 1990.

These increases have left many New Zealanders feeling the pinch this winter. Among this group are students who are finding their student loans increasingly inadequate.

Currently, a student receiving the student loan can claim up to $169.51 per week. In June 2010, the maximum entitlement was $160.63. This means the living costs payment has increased by only 5.5 per cent.

Despite the rise in living cost payments being greater than the rise in the CPI, students are still struggling to make ends meet. It is acknowledged that the rise in GST (to 15 per cent) has been a strong contributing factor in the rise of the CPI. However students have been disproportionately hit by the GST rise because most do not work (or work enough hours) so have not had the extra cost offset by tax cuts.

Because students have been disproportionately hit by the increase in GST, the money they have left after paying rent is not going as far as it did a year ago. According to the Department of Building and Housing, the average weekly rent for a four bedroom flat in Kelburn or Aro Valley is $146 per person. This means many students have only $23.51 to cover their remaining expenses.

This amount becomes increasingly inadequate when looking at the price of ‘student essentials’ at the supermarket. A loaf of supermarket brand bread is now approximately $1.70, two litres of milk $3.60, 500g of dried pasta $1.10 and a head of broccoli $3.40. Add to these the increased cost of power to heat a cold flat and the situation looks dire.

Many Victoria students have been expressing their frustration over these rising costs.

“Pasta is always a good cheap meal and at the start of the year I could get a bag for 70 cents. In some places it’s nearly double that now,” says one student.
“I never use my clothes dryer anymore, power makes it too expensive to run,” says another.

Other students are keen to share their money saving tips with others.
“I never buy veges from the supermarket anymore, the markets on the weekend are the way to go!” says one student.
Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei and Labour Party Leader Phil Goff have both voiced concern with the rising cost of living and the effect this is having on those who have not benefited from tax cuts.

“Many people on low-incomes and benefits are forced to spend their entire income on the basics like rent and power, while putting fresh, healthy food on the table is out now out of the question,” says Turei.

“Something needs to be done to help struggling Kiwis feel there is some hope,” says Goff.
The Labour Party’s recently announced tax policies could go some way to helping low-income earners with the cost of living. Their plans to remove GST on fruit and vegetables and make the first $5000 of income tax-free could take some pressure off struggling students.

For students who are suffering financially, VUWSA provides many services designed to lend a hand, including providing a food bank and free bread to students on Wednesday mornings.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Merrin says:

    Buy your broccoli at the markets, yo. It is like $1.50 a head.

  2. owen says:

    woah thats cheaper than marion st

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