The Government's $16.3 billion support package is "only the beginning", according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who is warning against expecting things to go back to normal anytime soon.

He also has a stark warning about New Zealand's unemployment rate, warning that it could reach close to 7 per cent.

"But put it this way," he told Newstalk ZB this morning, "in the global financial crisis [GFC)] we saw unemployment reach 6.7 per cent. This is undoubtedly going to be worse than the GFC."

New Zealand's current employment rate is 4 per cent.


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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also offered some reassurance to mortgage holders, saying that no one would lose their home as a result of losing their job.

Yesterday, Robertson announced the Government's wage subsidy package would be raised from $5.1 billion to $9.3 billion and would be available for all businesses, with no cap.

He said this morning that the $9.3b is just an estimate at this stage and can be raised depending on the uptake of the scheme.

And how much money the Government is spending on cushioning the impact of Covid-19 is expected to continue rising.

Robertson is still yet to announce details of a scheme whereby "all New Zealanders [would] continue to receive some form of income through this period".

But, speaking to ZB, he did provide a few more details on another significant soon-to-be-announced scheme – a Government-backed business loan initiative.

Robertson said the Government would be using its balance sheet to support businesses in New Zealand that are struggling.


"We will have the details of that to announce if not by the end of the day then tomorrow morning."

But he said it would be modelled on the business guarantee scheme unveiled by the Australian Government.

That policy will see the Australian government guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible banks to small and medium enterprises.

The Government will provide guarantees of up to $20b, thereby supporting up to $40b in loans.

Another element of the Government's economic Covid-19 plan is a "significant" support plan for mortgage holders.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern said: "The in-principle decision we have got with banks is that no one will lose their homes as a consequence of [losing their job]".


Asked if that amounted to essentially a mortgage freeze, Ardern said yes. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website