Some anxious times ahead

November should be a lovely month, with the weather warming up and the festive season nearly upon us, but this year there will be many people around Wanaka and Central Otago nervous about the impact of skyrocketing costs on them and their family.

Data released by Statistics NZ last month showed food prices have increased by an average of 8.3% in the last 12 months, which included a 16% increase in the price of fruit and vegetables.

Food is up, rent is up and petrol is up.

As wage growth lags behind inflation, it’s a tough run into Christmas for many people.

There are fears among some local social services providers that demand for support will increase, with concerns of an emerging rental shortage on the horizon.

But it’s not just renters who are feeling the pinch.

The Reserve Bank has recently confirmed that extensive pain is on the way for mortgage holders.

Its Financial Stability Report noted the number of households in financial difficulty will grow as more fixed-rate mortgages reprice, and that the average percentage of disposable income dedicated to debt servicing is expected to rise from 9% to 20%.

There will be people around Wanaka and Central Otago who purchased a property while interest rates were low who now find that servicing that debt will become more difficult.

I feel for locals who look at their bank balance and wonder how they’re going to cover costs.

I think of those who may struggle to afford Christmas presents for their children and who worry about having to buy new uniforms and school stationery in the new year.

The cost-of-living crisis is not confined to New Zealand, but I think it’s fair to say that New Zealanders and their families are now paying a large price for extensive money-printing, borrowing and spending under this Government.

Economic mismanagement has worsened the cost-of-living crisis.

We desperately need strong, careful economic management and fiscal responsibility.

Wasteful spending needs to stop, the same applies to new costs and taxes. People need to keep more of what they earn.

We need to tackle inflation and get the cost of living under control to ease the pressure.

I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but I do think it’s important for us to be aware of what some of our fellow community members are going through right now.

In many instances, the financial hardship they’re experiencing is no fault of their own.

Families who are struggling in Wanaka and Central Otago need action.

I would like the Government to adopt National’s plan to eliminate bottlenecks to growth, stop wasteful spending and adjust tax brackets for inflation.

The Reserve Bank should also be focused on an anti-inflation mandate.

I appreciate these facts and figures may give people a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach, so in looking for a bright spot, I turn to tourism.

According to Infometrics, tourism’s contribution to Central Otago’s GDP peaked at $101 million pre-Covid.

As the number of overseas visitors is expected to increase over the summer months, I hope the local economy will receive a welcome boost.

With the nationwide picture looking so gloomy, we’ll take any good news we can get.