Sunday, May 26, 2024

Leg up for businesses to transition to COVID framework

The Government will boost payments to businesses affected by higher alert levels as the country transitions to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, Finance Minister, Grant Robertson has announced today.

“While the ongoing restrictions in Auckland are keeping people safe, we also know they have made life very tough for businesses in the region. In recognition of that Ministers have agreed to significantly boost the Resurgence Support Payment,” Mr Robertson said.

“After the next scheduled payment on 29 October we will move to fortnightly payments at double the current rate. The enhanced support will first be paid on 12 November and fortnightly thereafter until Auckland is able to move into the new framework.”

Currently the RSP is paid at a base rate of $1500 per eligible business and $400 for each full-time employee up to a total of $21,500.

For the payments starting on 12 November, this will be $3000 per business and $800 per FTE, up to 50 FTEs. This will make the maximum fortnightly payment $43,000.

The estimated cost of providing both the weekly RSP and the wage subsidy is up to $940 million per fortnight through this transitional period.

“In effect this means the RSP will be a weekly rather than three weekly payment as it is now, but for ease of application and administration it will be available in fortnightly instalments. We are not changing any settings at this time so payments can be made without disruption,” the Finance Minister said.

“The enhanced RSP will be available until Auckland moves into the new framework. The Wage Subsidy will continue to be available on the current criteria while areas of the country are still in Alert Level 3.

“Final details of the support to be provided under the new framework will be agreed in November. My expectation is that because businesses will be able to operate at all levels of the framework, the wage subsidy and the RSP will be reworked to a new targeted payment at the RED level of the new framework,” he said.

Ministers have agreed in principle that there will be a transition payment made available to support businesses when they move into the new framework.

In addition, Ministers have agreed a $60 million package for business advice and mental health support will be made available to help Auckland businesses through this transition period.

Businesses will be able to apply for up to $3000 worth of advice and planning support, and then receive up to $4,000 to implement that advice through the established Regional Business Partners programme. 

As part of the package, $10 million is available for mental health and wellbeing support through a programme to be designed with the EMA and Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce. 

Small Business Minister, Stuart Nash said the measures are designed to support Auckland businesses to deal with the uncertainties caused by the Delta outbreak.

“This will help build more resilient businesses, improve the ability to operate when COVID-19 restrictions are in place and position businesses better to seize future opportunities.”

“The Regional Business Partners programme is a proven network of experienced advisors who can recommend tailored solutions to the issues faced by business owners.

“This will make a real difference in difficult times and ease some of the financial and wellbeing stresses faced by Auckland businesses under lockdown,” Mr Nash said

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