Christchurch workers sign up for job loss cover

Photo / Dean Purcell
Photo / Dean Purcell

In Christchurch 2700 workers have signed up for job loss cover because of the earthquake - most have lost their jobs, new figures show.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today released figures of showing 2700 individual employees have taken up job loss cover.

Those people would include workers who had been unable to contact their employer or had been told by their employer they were no longer operating.

Most would have lost their jobs.

Under the Government's assistance package for employers and workers $38 million has been paid out to 5000 employers, to cover 26,300 staff. A further 5200 sole traders have taken it up.

"Payments are being quickly processed and around 80 percent of approved applications have already been paid," Bennett said in a statement.

An estimate of $120m cost of the subsidy was not a cap and if needed to go higher it would, she told Radio New Zealand.

Bennett said decisions had not yet been made if the scheme would be extended beyond six weeks.

Meanwhile normal stand down periods were being waived for people going onto benefits.

More than $7 million had been paid out in emergency civil defence payments. That would help some people unable to go to work because of situations at home, like child care.

Bennett also said, in the statement, that eight recovery assistance centres would open, six of them tomorrow, in hardest hit areas.

"These centres will provide a range of services to people in localised areas in Christchurch, particularly the eastern suburbs," she said.

A centre at Burnside High School is closing so classes could resume. People staying overnight in welfare centres were being provided other accommodation.

"As the focus moves towards sustainable solutions for Christchurch, recovery centres will provide the day-to-day support needed, while families move into private accommodation."

Recovery assistance centres would provide service and information from agencies including Work and Income, Housing New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, Red Cross and Salvation Army.

More non government organisations would be joining.

"People visiting a recovery assistance centre will find they're essentially a one-stop shop where people can sort out emergency payments, housing issues, get counselling or just have a cup of tea and a chat."

Most recovery assistance centres will be situated in the hardest hit suburbs in east Christchurch such as Aranui, Linwood, Dallington and New Brighton.

Financial assistance in the form of civil defence payments and the earthquake support package remain available to anyone in need.

- NZPA

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