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Wealth stats `nothing out of the ordinary'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/06/2016

The government is fighting back against opposition criticism that it has overseen a big increase in the wealth held by the country's richest households.

Finance Minister Bill English says the latest statistics are "nothing out of the ordinary".

He says they're around average for OECD countries - about the same as Canada but considerably more equal than the Netherlands and the United States.

The government was given a roasting on Tuesday when figures came out showing the top 10 per cent of wealthy households now own more than half the country's wealth.

That's according to Statistics New Zealand which also says the bottom 40 per cent hold just three per cent of the wealth.

Between 2003 and 2010, the Survey of Family, Income and Employment found that the top 10 per cent had an average 55 per cent.

But for the year ended June 2015, that had grown to 60 per cent, says Stats NZ's Diane Ramsay.

"Right now, National's policies are holding back New Zealanders from achieving the Kiwi dream of a home of your own, opportunities for everyone's kids to succeed, and security and freedom to make your own choices," said Labour's Grant Robertson.

The Greens say the figures paint a stark picture of inequality.

"Things have got worse under National," said co-leader Metiria Turei.

"It's only delivering for a chosen few while ordinary families struggle."

Mr English says a huge amount of income redistribution goes on already.

"Those earning over $80,000, for example, make up 11 per cent of the adult population but pay 50 per cent of income tax," he said.

"On the other hand, a very large number of households effectively don't pay tax, because of benefits, Working for Families and NZ super."


* Worth $289,000 on average in the year to June 2015

* On average own $400,000 in assets and owe $51,000

* 5 per cent of households owe more than they own

* One in two households owned the house they live in

* Median mortgage value is $172,000

* For every $1 of assets, New Zealand households have 12 cents of debt.

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