Wage subsidy deadlines should be extended

The Government must extend the deadline for the first fortnight of wage subsidy applications to make sure businesses don’t miss out, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“National MPs continue to be contacted by frustrated businesses who, through no fault of their own, missed the first deadline and are concerned that they might miss out on the wage subsidy. They are understandably anxious for their employees who could miss out on wages from the first two weeks while the country at Level 4.

“The early closure of applications for the first fortnightly round means many New Zealanders could miss out on an income through no fault of their own.

“The Government should extend the deadline to allow those businesses to apply. It needs to be transparent about what they are doing for those impacted by the early closure and website portal issues reported on Friday morning.

“It’s not enough for the Government to tell businesses to phone MSD. A public explanation about the process being undertaken and businesses ability to access the subsidy is required.

“Businesses also continue to report significant delays with payments coming through despite submitting an application at the start of the application period. The uncertainty these delays cause, coupled with the fact many are still recovering from last year’s lockdowns, is pushing some to the brink of closure.

“Already more than 5000 New Zealanders have moved onto the Jobseeker benefit since the Delta outbreak. The Government can’t be complacent about the impact lockdown has on jobs and livelihoods.

“Kiwis shouldn’t miss out on their income because the Government didn’t sufficiently plan how the online application process would operate with the new requirements. They should be able to expect their wage subsidy applications will be processed and paid within the target the Government has set.

“We expect the Government to provide this certainty for New Zealanders immediately.”