COVID-19: Government announces $1.2bn income relief scheme

by Duffie Osental26 May 2020

The New Zealand government has announced that workers who lost their job due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to receive $490 a week tax-free for 12 weeks.

The payment will be available from 8 June and will pay $490 a week to those who lost full-time work and $250 for part-time work since 1 March. The scheme is expected to cost about $570 million, which incorporates $1.2 billion of payments offset by $635 million of saved benefit payments.

Read more: COVID-19: Reserve Bank predicts 150,000 job losses

For their part, people who receive the COVID payment will be required to be available for, and actively seeking, suitable work opportunities while they receive the payment; take appropriate steps towards gaining new employment; and identify and take opportunities for employment, re-deployment, and training.

In a statement, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the payment acknowledges that the global economy is “facing a one-in-100-year recession and supports the government’s priority of protecting jobs where possible and supporting workers back into jobs where necessary.”

“The government’s priority is making sure people are in work and able to find new work if their job has been impacted by COVID,” said Robertson. “We’ve always acknowledged that we won’t be able to save every job or every business and we have not hidden the fact that this is a global economic crisis and things are likely to get worse. But the government is investing to cushion the blow on households and businesses to make sure we’re in the best position to respond, recover and rebuild.”

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