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National is calling on the Government to lift the $150,000, 21 full-time employee cap on its wage subsidy scheme to reduce business collapses and job losses, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said today.

“While entirely justifiable on public health grounds, Government decisions to severely restrict movement and significant parts of everyday life are already having a significant economic cost.  

“We are facing the sharpest and deepest recession in living memory.

“The current wage subsidy settings are too tight, so that most workers – who work for medium sized and larger firms – are not covered.

“While it’s true that most businesses in New Zealand are small, the majority of workers currently work for the 5,000 businesses that employ more than 50 people. 

“Just think of a large scale tourist bus operator with hundreds of employees, this business’s revenues will have collapsed. A subsidy capped at 21 employees will be of little assistance.

“The $150,000 cap needs to be much higher, so that workers are covered no matter what the size of the business.

“Urgent further consideration also needs to be given to the shape of the scheme as it currently it pays the money out to businesses without seeking guarantees that people will be kept in employment, only ‘best endeavours’ are required.  

 “The recently announced British scheme is a more generous payment for employees kept on the payroll but sent home. 

“These are extraordinary times and we would support the Government to move much more boldly.”

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