I recently decided to see how many businesses in the Taranaki-King Country electorate offered the SuperGold card discount and was extremely pleased to see the volume of businesses that do.
Recent claims the SuperGold card is being killed off are just wrong. In fact, Budget 2016 provides an additional $41 million of operating funding for the scheme over the next four years. This is on top of baseline funding of $18 million a year bringing our total annual investment to around $28 million.
We’re committed to ensuring SuperGold card holders continue to enjoy free off-peak public transport. Recent changes to how the scheme is funded will not change these entitlements.
Over the past few years, costs of maintaining the scheme have increased rapidly due to a growth in the number of people who qualify for the scheme, increased use of the card, and increases in public transport fares.
That’s why last year we undertook a review of the public transport concession. We needed to take a look at how best to ensure the long-term viability of the programme while being fair on taxpayers.
The Government took the opportunity to wrap funding of the SuperGold scheme into recent changes to bulk fund public transport services, to get better value for money for public transport services as well as the SuperGold card scheme.
There’s no change whatsoever to the entitlements seniors have. The new funding model means better value for money, not a reduction in services. Card holders can continue to catch the bus, train or ferries at no cost during off-peak hours.
There has also been some concern around the switch to smart cards in Auckland. Again, there is no reduction in the services card holders are entitled to. It is about improving services for those using multiple forms of transport in one trip, as well as making collecting data easier.
We will work closely with other councils wanting to adopt similar technology to make the transition for SuperGold users as easy as possible. Rest assured all SuperGold card holders will be fully informed when any changes are going to occur in their region.
The SuperGold card is just part of the Government’s package supporting older New Zealanders. We have increased funding for health to a record $16.1 billion. Superannuation has gone up 34 per cent since 2008.
The broad range of initiatives underway show this Government remains committed to older New Zealanders.
Honourable Maggie Barry, Minister for Seniors, launched a website towards the end of last year called SuperSeniors. This is a very useful platform and also includes a regular newsletter full of great information. For further details please go to www.superseniorsmsd.govt.nz.