Wage subsidy early closure could see businesses miss out

The Government must apologise to business owners and make sure no one misses out on wages after the wage subsidy applications closed unexpectedly early last night, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Government websites were clear that the wage subsidy applications would close at 11.59pm on Thursday 2 September for the first fortnight of payments which covers the time where all of New Zealand was in Level 4 lockdown.

“However, last night National MPs were inundated with messages from businesses, some as early as 8.30pm, frustrated to learn applications for the first round had closed early.

“Later in the evening, at about 10.30pm, applications appeared to reopen.

“This bungle has added further stress to many businesses and employees who are already doing it tough. The Government must make sure no one misses out on payments and the systems align with the publicly stated deadlines.

“The botched communications from the Government for this round of the wage subsidy has already made life difficult for many. Kiwis shouldn’t have to deal with basic government errors as well.

“In Parliament I asked Finance Minister Grant Robertson why applications for the wage subsidy now needed to be made every fortnight and if the deadlines were clear.

“Grant Robertson was adamant businesses knew in December last year about this fortnightly requirement. If the Government has known about this for at least eight months why weren’t the processes tested to make sure this bungle didn’t happen.

“More rigorous testing of the IT infrastructure in the event of another Covid outbreak should’ve been undertaken.

“Instead, the application portal closing could mean many businesses and employees will miss out on their much-needed wage subsidy payments.

“We also continue to hear from many who have submitted wage subsidy applications but are yet to get a response or receive payment after being approved.

“The Government must take responsibility for these blunders and take immediate steps to make sure Kiwis do not miss out on an income because of their mistakes.”