Senior citizens will see the benefits of the Government's Wellbeing Budget, to be announced this month, with investment going into the SuperGold Card, Digital Literacy Training and ACC.
Minister for seniors Tracey Martin today announced the three initiatives, including a $7.7 million upgrade to the SuperGold Card, that will help seniors stay connected and improve their financial position.
The upgrades to the SuperGold Card, which is a discounts and concessions card for seniors and veterans, will include building a new digital platform for card holders and businesses.
Ms Martin says the card, which is widely used by the 750,000 cardholders in New Zealand's older community, had been "neglected" for several years, making it more difficult for people to know where they can use it.
"New Zealand's over 65s really appreciate the SuperGold Card," she said. "They particularly value the travel concessions and shopping discounts."
A key goal of enhancing the card was to help seniors on fixed incomes to stretch their dollar further so they could buy the services and products they need, Ms Martin said.
The SuperGold website, which hasn’t been updated for six years, would be upgraded and easier to use, as well as a new SuperGold app, linked to the website, would also be created to help show seniors where the card can be used when they are out.
These will be launched before the end of the year.
"The opportunity that doing these things and revitalising the card creates, is to find more discounts," Ms Martin said. "There will be one million over 65s within the next decade, which presents a very large consumer group."
She wants to hear from businesses wanting to access and help older New Zealanders.
The Wellbeing Budget will also give new funding for Digital Literacy Training for seniors, and provides for ACC changes that better support working superannuitants who are injured.
Ms Martin says as New Zealand's population ages and technology increasing changes, some older people who no longer work are getting left behind.
"The Budget contains $600,000 to provide some computer training and skills for those who need it," she said.
"We want older people to be able to access information and services online, and not miss out, and we want them to have the technology skills to stay in touch with their families."
The ACC changes, which will begin on July 1, will mean older people who are still working and are seriously injured will no longer have to choose between receiving NZ Superannuation or ACC weekly payments.
"At the moment if someone is eligible for Super or the Veteran’s Pension they have to make that choice ... we’re changing that.
"If an older person is entitled to weekly ACC compensation for a personal injury, they will be able to receive those payments along with NZ Super or the Veteran’s Pension for up to two years," Ms Martin says.
The changes will allow an injured person's financial situation to more closely reflect their income.
"That's only fair – especially as we are going to increasingly want older people to stay in paid work if they want to."