Wage subsidy problems must be sorted

Further reports of confusion about whether businesses are entitled to the wage-subsidy at alert level two shows the Government must urgently improve the scheme, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Government MPs have sent mixed messages about whether firms are eligible for the wage subsidy at Alert Level 2, as recent remarks by Julie White, the Chief of Executive of Hospitality New Zealand, in the media show.

“On the one hand Labour MP Ginny Anderson made a deliberate public broadcast in Parliament last week to say all businesses in regions at Alert Level 2 were eligible to receive the wage subsidy.

“Ms Anderson’s remarks were not caveated by any statement about the need to connect the revenue drop to regions at Alert Level 3 or 4.

“Whereas Finance Minister Grant Robertson has clearly caught some businesses unaware by stating the revenue drop has to be directly connected to Auckland being at Level 3 or 4.

“National has also received reports of Government departments providing different advice on this issue.

“This is yet another botch up about the wage subsidy scheme at a time when Kiwi businesses and their employees are under stress.

“The Government decided to add new requirements to the wage subsidy process. It was incumbent on the Government to make sure its systems and communications were prepared for these new requirements.

“The fact that even Labour MPs cannot communicate full and accurate information about the wage subsidy scheme shows they had not prepared properly for another outbreak of Covid-19.

“Minister Robertson and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni are still to respond to my letter requesting the deadline for the first round of wage subsidies to be extended.

“People should not miss out on wages because of this Government’s incompetence. Given the long-list of botch ups businesses have endured, the least the Government can do is show some leniency.”

You can find Ms Anderson’s comments attached here.