Small business owners want to see a road map for recovery in today's much-anticipated Budget, according to one Canterbury family electrical firm, and hope taxpayers aren't crippled by the Government's coronavirus "lolly scramble".
Pete and Sonia Wakefield have run Wakefield Electrical in Canterbury for the past decade, with an "ample" staff of five enduring a dynamic and shifting rebuild and post-earthquake business landscape.
It's been a tough, competitive market in the past two years – and now, like all businesses in New Zealand, they've been hammered by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
The nationwide alert level 4 lockdown ground the Wakefield's business to a halt, with fewer than 10 callouts from loyal customers.
"When you hear of Air New Zealand having a 95 per cent drop, they're not the only ones hurting. There are lots of other businesses in the same boat," 55-year-old father-of-three Pete told the Herald this week.
The Government's wage subsidy scheme had been critical in retaining staff and things picked up in alert level 3, but extra health and safety precautions had spiked the cost of doing business.
While trying to maintain a healthily "Kiwi" positive outlook, the Wakefields fear tough times ahead for the economy.
They want to see Finance Minister Grant Robertson's "recovery Budget" somehow "magically stimulate" the economy, and provide incentives for existing and new small businesses and help get Kiwis back spending.
"Not bagging New Zealanders but, unlike some other countries, we protect every dollar and stretch our budgets through DIY and things like that, but everyone needs to keep spending so everyone gets a share of it on the money-go-round," Pete says.
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The Wakefields also want to see a Government commitment that future big projects are Kiwi-made, and contracts given to local businesses employing local people.
"We've seen far too many projects in the Christchurch rebuild given to foreign companies.
"Keeping New Zealanders employed has got to be a big focus. If they are local and spend their money locally, it's going to be better for everyone."
The Wakefields worry any tax increases, designed to pay for the Covid-19 crisis and what Pete describes as the resulting "lolly scramble", would be damaging to the economy.
They see today's Budget as being one of the most important in New Zealand history – and a fine balancing act of paying bills and stimulating both small and big business.
"I don't envy them in Treasury," Sonia says. "It's such a hard situation that they have to balance. But … it is what it is."
Pete agrees. "I hope that the pain isn't going to be too bad. Of course, we'll all get through, it's just a matter of how much pain and where it is, going forward."