National calls for increased Auckland business support

The National Party has released a six-point plan outlining support measures it says are needed for Auckland business struggling with the extended level 4 lockdown.

“The worst result is for businesses to fail from a lack of cashflow as a result of the Government’s decision to impose crippling lockdowns across the country,” National shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly said.

“If businesses do go to the wall then potentially a significant number of people could end up on the jobseeker (unemployment) benefit. Some 50,000 people lost their jobs in the first lockdown and many are still on a benefit.”

The plan includes immediate confirmation that the wage subsidy and resurgence payments will continue to be paid to those qualifying companies at level 2.5 or above.

It reiterates an earlier call for a Business Rental Support package to assist those companies entitled to the wage subsidy.

“Given a prolonged period of lockdown that is tough for many businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, tenants and landlords need financial support,” Bayly said.

“National’s rental support scheme would mean those small businesses entitled to wage support payments would also receive a 50 per cent subsidy from Government, backed by a binding arbitration process to resolve tenancy issues promptly.”

A third move would be for the Government to allow the Covid-19 temporary loss carry-back scheme to apply for the 2022 tax year.

Bayly also called for the Ministry of Social Development to process all wage subsidy payments within three working days for the self-employed and sole traders.

“Significant delays are occurring, particularly for those who are self-employed, which mean people have not received their wage subsidy payments due to administrative and IT issues.”

He also wanted to see further exemptions granted to Auckland businesses which manufacture critical building products that are supplied to the rest of the country to allow construction projects to progress.

“Clause 29A of the Health Order currently restricts this to coated roofing, plaster and gypsum board and cavity insulation products,” he said.

“It is essential that we allow Auckland-based manufacturers to supply products to construction projects across the country without delay.”

Finally, Bayly said he wanted the Government to implement a mental health programme for small business owners and their staff:

“Given the significant pressures, we must work with the Business New Zealand network and regional chambers of commerce agencies to deliver this support nationally.”

The proposals had the support of business groups including the Auckland Employers & Manufacturers Association, Hospitality New Zealand, the Restaurant Association and Franchise Association of New Zealand.

Last month an Auckland Business Chamber Covid petition asking the Government to support struggling business owners in the same way as employees attracted more than 20,000 signatures a day after it was launched.

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