Eldernet asked each of the political parties contesting the 2020 election to tell us what they see as the primary issues facing older people and what they plan to do about making older people’s lives easier. Here is the response from Shai Navot, deputy leader of The Opportunities Party.
TOP is the only party with a plan to increase superannuation and ensure it is financially sustainable for the long term, avoiding the need to raise the age for retirement. At TOP, we don’t want Kiwis to be forced into working more years of their life simply because politicians have failed to make superannuation affordable. TOP’s plan will increase superannuation by $800 per year, or $15.50 per week, paid for by changes to the tax rates on additional income.
Furthermore, we want to move towards a model whereby all superannuitants receive the same level of financial support, irrespective of their relationship status. The government should not dictate living arrangements to its citizens, and removing this distinction will reduce administration costs. However, when it comes to expenses, particularly fixed charges on utilities and household-based expenses such as rates and insurance, additional provision would need to be made for increased accommodation allowances claimed by those superannuitants living alone.
Only 60 percent of Kiwis aged 65-89 own their own home, and TOP wants to ensure that those who rent have greater security of tenure so renters can turn their house into a home and remain in that home for as long as they choose, provided the rent is paid and the property is not damaged. TOP would ensure that housing and new developments are designed and built to foster social connection, inclusivity, and increase our sense of community.
TOP would seek to rebalance our health spending and increase funding for aged care and away from intensive treatments that often don’t increase people’s quality and quantity of life. TOP will further fund community groups that help reduce loneliness and improve mental health. TOP also has a plan for a universal basic income of $250 per week for every adult (aged 18-64). This would give essential workers the pay rise that they deserve, and acknowledge the hard work of our volunteers in the community.
Finally, TOP’s overall focus is on improving the legacy that older generations will leave to their children and grandchildren. COVID-19 has shown that our current way of doing things is no longer fit for purpose. As a country we have growing inequality, record high rents, an entire generation who cannot afford to buy their first home, and an environment and climate crisis to deal with. Furthermore, our productivity has been woefully low and wages have been near stagnant. These problems have all been getting steadily worse for the past 30 years; red or blue, the outcomes have been the same. To emerge a stronger, better New Zealand we need real change. TOP will work with either of the main parties to make this happen.