Winter energy payments to keep a million Kiwis warm and healthy

As part of the Government’s Families Package, a new Winter Energy Payment (WEP) will help a million people with the costs of heating their homes in winter, Minister for Energy and Resources Megan Woods and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni say.

“The Government is delivering on its promise to put people at the heart of everything we do. We promised more support for Kiwis to keep their homes warm and healthy in winter, and today we are delivering on that promise,” Megan Woods says.

“Our Winter Energy Payment will help superannuitants and beneficiaries afford the heating they need to keep themselves warm and healthy.

“Around 1,600 Kiwis die each year due to cold housing in winter and thousands more end up in hospital. That’s not right, and we can do better.”

The WEP will be available for every New Zealander 65 and over who receives New Zealand Superannuation or a Veteran’s Pension, as well as people receiving a main benefit, to heat their homes during the coldest months from May to September.

The WEP will become available from 1 July 2018. The payment will run for 13 weeks in the winter of 2018. In future years, it will start on 1 May and continue for 22 weeks.

When fully implemented, the annual payment will be $450 for single people with no dependent children, and $700 for couples or single people with dependent children.

Eligibility will be conditional on people being largely resident in New Zealand over the winter months. Anyone absent from the country for more than four weeks will not receive the WEP unless they return home during the eligibility period. There will be an opt-out option for people who do not need the assistance.

“Over the next four years, $1.81 billion will be spent on the Winter Energy Payment. That money, as with the rest of our Families Package, comes from cancelling National’s poorly targeted tax cuts,” Carmel Sepuloni says.

“Instead, we’re helping to keep a million Kiwis warm and safe this winter. This is the change New Zealanders voted for.”