The government has announced details of a wage subsidy for employers in quake-hit areas around Kaikoura.
Meanwhile, Wellington City Council CEO Kevin Lavery tells NBR he's in talks with the government for compensation for small businesses affected by the growing number of building evacuations, car park closures and cordons in the capital.
The Kaikoura package will see businesses with fewer than 20 staff, who are unable to pay staff due to road or coastal damage — and who have exhausted private loss-of-earnings insurance cover – will be able to claim:
- $500 gross per week for a full-time employee ($4000 per person);
- $300 gross per week for a part-time employee ($2400 per person);
Employers on the scheme will also not be subject to GST.
The subsidy will be initially paid for eight weeks and can be backdated to the date of the earthquake and employers can "top up" the subsidy.
It will be available for businesses in Kaikoura, Cheviot, Waiau, Rotherham, Mt Lyford and Ward who face a dramatic drop in their turnover as a direct result of the earthquakes and the closure of SH1.
"The road is unlikely to open for many weeks and possibly months," Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says. "On top of that, the earthquake has had a massive negative effect on the fisheries industry in the district. It is clear that if we don't move quickly, much of the employment in the area will dry up," Mr Joyce says.
The package is modelled on previous support packages for small businesses after the Christchurch earthquakes, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says.
"It is designed to give employers who experience a sudden big and sustained drop in revenue the confidence to retain their permanent staff while we all get more certainty on the future of the district’s key industries like tourism, hospitality and fisheries.”
Green Party earthquake recovery spokeswoman Eugenie Sage says she supports the package, but that it will have to last longer than eight weeks.
Mr Joyce says further measures are in the works.
All-purpose helpline set up
An 0800 779 997 Government Helpline has been activated to assist people needing financial and other support following the Kaikoura quake. The number will operate seven days a week from 7am to 9pm until further notice.
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