Shocking new Salvation Army survey finds nearly half of New Zealanders have gone without heating, 37 per cent have skipped a meal as winter costs bite

Many Kiwis are unable to afford the basics this winter, a Salvation Army survey has revealed.

Salvation Army National Practice manager Jono Bell spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning. Source: Breakfast

The Salvation Army's national practice manager Jono Bell spoke to TVNZ 1's Breakfast about the results, taken from a survey of just over 1000 people. 

"The results are really surprising at how widespread people are struggling this winter," Mr Bell said.

"One half of New Zealanders - 50 per cent of New Zealanders - are going without heating at times, just due to the cost; 37 per cent of families are going without, skipping meals. This isn't just isolated to a few people - 10 per cent of beneficiaries - this is a widespread issue for Kiwis."

Mr Bell believes there are multiple issues surrounding the dire results.

"Over winter, there's just more costs, so heating, power costs are definitely a big factor, but of course, housing costs definitely can be attributed, too."

The Salvation Army is launching its winter appeal today in a bid to give support to families struggling over the rising costs in the winter months.

"We're seeing a 15 to 20 per cent around the regions, around the country, this winter compared to the others. Partly, it's to do with the housing affordability, and also fuel prices, increase in fruit and vege costs - things like that. There has been some increases and it might not be significant, but at this time of year, people are then forced to choose."

"At the Salvation Army, we just don't think that's right basic needs - of food, of heating, of warmth - [that] people should have to choose from them."

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni told 1 NEWS the Salvation Army's findings aren't surprising.

"It's exactly the things that this Government has been saying - that too many children and families are living in poverty. That's why we've spent $5.5 billion on our Families Package which came into effect on July 1st," Ms Sepuloni said. 

However, the Social Development Minister says the Families Package came into effect on July 1, whereas the families in the Salvation Army study were surveyed in late June. 

Ms Sepuloni says she "expect[s] over time our Government's initiatives will make a difference".

"The Families Package gives 1 million people access to the Winter Energy Payment which allows them to warm their homes in Winter. 26,000 more people will be eligible for Working for Families; thousands of families with newborns will get the Best Start Payment; [and] 136,000 people have had an increase in their accommodation supplement.

"These changes will improve incomes for low and middle income families with children, and over time will reduce child poverty."