Unions and businesses are united in their calls for the Government to expand the wage subsidy scheme when Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivers his third Budget this week.

He's dubbed it the "recovery budget" and it comes at a time when New Zealand businesses and employees are facing more pressure than ever.

Although the Government has already allocated more than $20 billion in pre-Budget announcements, Robertson says there is a lot more to come.

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But ahead of his big day, Robertson is facing calls from various lobby groups, unions and non-for-profits over what he should be spending taxpayers' money on.

For CTU president Richard Wagstaff, the wage subsidy scheme needs to be expanded.

In mid-March, the Government announced the then $5.1b scheme – it's since doubled.

Its aim was to keep people in work during the lockdown period by topping up employees' pay.

So far the Government has paid out almost $11b towards 1.7 million workers in New Zealand.

Wagstaff said the scheme has been important, but it needed to be expanded as the economy sours.

This, he said, should be done in two parts – the first in topping up wages where employers temporarily can't afford to keep people employed, or are forced to reduce work levels.

Secondly, he said it should provide adequate wage-related income where people lose their jobs.


But he said unions have reservations about the adequacy of the scheme and about its openness to abuse.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope supported the scheme's continuation – in fact, he wants it to continue for another two months, as long as businesses can prove their revenue had taken a 30 per cent Covid-19 related hit.

"It will be important that the Government moves from directly supporting business to providing the supporting legislative and economic framework for growth," he said.

"We also don't want to see further changes in employment legislation that restricts flexibility in employment."

Hope and Wagstaff are not the only ones with Budget wish lists.

The Taxpayers' Union wants to see the recently announced $25 lift in benefit payments reversed when GDP returns to pre-Covid-19 levels.


But Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) wants to see benefit levels increased even higher.

 Finance Minister Grant Robertson makes an exit after a press conference at Parliament. Photo / Pool
Finance Minister Grant Robertson makes an exit after a press conference at Parliament. Photo / Pool

"If we do not mend our safety net we risk having a generation growing up without any financial security," AAAP spokesman Ricardo Menéndez said.

Greenpeace campaigner Amanda Larsson said the Government needed to focus on the environment when it comes to any new spending.

"This is an opportunity to build an economy which works within the environmental boundaries of the planet."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

What has been announced so far:

February 18 – $11 million tourism package to target getting more tourists from North America and Australia to New Zealand, to make up for the loss in the Chinese tourism market.
March 3 – $4m to help provide businesses struggling with Covid-19 advice and support, such as with payroll issues.
March 17 – $5.1 billion for a wage subsidy scheme, designed to keep people in work during the lockdown period by topping up employees' pay. Fulltime workers would get $585 per week over 12 weeks – paid in a $7029 lump sum to their employer. Part-time workers, those on less than 20 hours a week, are entitled to $350 a week, a $4200 lump sum.
March 17 – $2.8b was earmarked for a tax package, aimed at helping to free up cashflow for businesses, and allowing the write-off of interest on the late payment of tax.
March 17 – $2.8b was made available for a package aimed at supporting the most vulnerable New Zealanders. This included a $25 a week increase to benefit payments and the doubling of the Winter Energy Payment.
March 17 – $500m towards a health sector boost, aimed at helping fund extra equipment for hospitals and to bolster Healthline.
March 17 – $600m for the aviation sector split up into financial support for hurting airports and airlines, which were provided with fees holidays to cushion the Covid-19 response.
March 20 – $113m towards the redeployment of workers, with an emphasis on those in the forestry sector, in the Gisborne-Tairāwhiti region
March 20 – $900m for a loan to Air New Zealand, with a 7-8 per cent interest rate, to help it get through the downturn.
March 27 – The upper limit of the wage subsidy scheme lifted to $12b and $150,000 per business cap axed.
April 25 – $107 allocated to help homeless find temporary housing during the Covid-19 lockdown, and to help secure permanent housing after.
May 10 – Pharmac allocated an extra $160m boost to help it buy medicine as Covid-19 continues to impact global supply lines.
May 11 – $203m over four years was set aside to further support the victims of family and sexual violence.
May 12 – $151.1m over four years to improve the pay of up to 17,000 qualified teachers working in education and care services.