Government contemplates targeted wage subsidy for Auckland

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Aug 2020, 6:11PM
Photo / File

Government contemplates targeted wage subsidy for Auckland

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 12 Aug 2020, 6:11PM

New Zealand's Finance Minister says economic support for Auckland is being considered if its current level 3 lockdown extends past Friday.

Grant Robertson said he has met with Treasury officials over a possible Auckland-targeted package which could involve a wage subsidy extension for the region.

"The reason I kept the $14 billion aside was in the event that this occurred, we hoped that it wouldn't," he told Newstalk ZB today.

After the next three days of testing and contact tracing in response to this week's Covid-19 outbreak, Robertson said there would be a clearer idea of what economic support might be needed.

The Government's wage subsidy scheme, which has been in place in some form since March, has topped $13b.

Figures from the Ministry of Social Development show $1.9b of that has been paid under the extension to the scheme, which came into effect in early June.

The wage subsidy extension provided an eight-week payment per named employee for businesses with at least a 40 per cent decline in actual revenue over a 30-day period within 40 days prior to applying for the extension, versus the nearest comparable period last year.

More than 1.7 million jobs are being supported by the scheme, which due to an end in September.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters last month: "We have clearly signalled the wage subsidy is not something that can go on for the never-never."

There are also more than 18,500 people receiving the Government's special Covid-19 income relief payment.

The 12-week payment is for people who have lost their jobs since March because of the pandemic.

It pays $490 a week for people who are out of fulltime work, and $250 a week for those who have lost part-time jobs.

Close to 17,000 of the people receiving the payment are getting the fulltime rate.

Despite earlier fears, unemployment dropped to 4 per cent in the June quarter, official labour force data from Stats NZ shows. It was a fall from the March quarter's 4.2 per cent.

Last night, Ardern announced Auckland would be moving to alert level 3 on the Government's Covid-19 response scale at midday today for the next three days.

The Super City will be plunged back into lockdown in response to four cases of community transmission with an unknown source.

They are the first such confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand for 102 days.

The area covered by level 3 is from Wellsford in the north to Pukekohe in the south, while the rest of New Zealand will be at alert level 2 during the next three days.