As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks.
“We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family and want to do the right thing during this unprecedented time,” Grant Robertson says.
“That’s why we’re saying ‘we have your backs’ through the measures we have in place, including the wage subsidy and working capital support alongside the banks.”
The measures include:
- Facilitating a 6-month deferred mortgage payment scheme with the banks to support mortgage holders whose incomes are affected by COVID-19, so that Kiwis don’t lose their homes during this period
- An estimated $9.3 billion in wage subsidies for affected businesses in all sectors and regions,
- Support for renters through a freeze on rent increases and end to no-cause evictions on top of existing support like the Accommodation Supplement and MSD grants to help with rent and hardship payments
- Protecting the ability of our public health services to respond to this global pandemic and access the resources they need through an initial $500 million investment.
- Doubling the 2020 Winter Energy Payment for Superannuitants and main-benefit recipients from 1 May to 1 October to make sure our most vulnerable are able to heat their homes particularly during a time when over-70s are to remain at home.
- A $25 per week increase to main benefits to protect our most vulnerable and those who lose their jobs, on top of the $10 a week wage indexation increase from 1 April.
- The $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to provide loans of up to $500,000 for businesses with annual revenues between $250,000 and $80 million, for up to three years – 80% guaranteed by the Government.
- Business tax changes to free up cashflow, including a provisional tax threshold lift, the reinstatement of building depreciation and writing off interest on the late payment of tax
“Our immediate priority is making sure New Zealand is prepared for the four week lock-down period from midnight tonight, so that we can get through it and out the other side with Kiwis staying safe and well,” Grant Robertson said.
“As the country enters Alert Level 4, all workers who don’t work for essential services will have to stay home for four weeks. Maintaining contact with workers will put businesses in a better position to recover once we are through this period. We will continue to monitor the support programmes and act as is necessary to support the incomes and livelihoods of New Zealanders.
“This will make the recovery faster because businesses won’t have to start again from scratch, which would be the case if they sever their work force,” Grant Robertson said.
To apply for COVID-19 assistance: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-support.html#null