There was vocal criticism around the income relief payment announced by the Government this week, offering up to $490 a week to those displaced from their jobs by Covid-19.
The criticism may seem churlish to some, but tell that to someone who lost their job in February this year. Beneficiary advocate Kay Brereton described the difference between the Covid-19 relief package and the existing $250 jobseeker benefit as "galling".
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Council of Christian Social Services secretariat Trevor McGlinchey said the new, more generous payment should be extended to all unemployed. "We're going to have an awful lot of two-income families that are reduced to one income."
Awful is the right word. NZ Herald journalist Hamish Rutherford reported this week 43,000 people have signed up for jobseeker benefits since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Under the scheme, those who lose their job between March 1, 2020 and 30 October 30, 2020 due to Covid-19 can get up to 12 weeks of the tax-free payments, to help with living costs after a sudden job loss, and give time to find other work.
Those previously working 30 hours or more a week can receive $490 per week those who were working 15 hours to 29 hours a week can receive $250 per week.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said this week he believed the number of people being put out of work was "plateauing" however Infometrics economist Brad Olsen warns of a "second wave" of jobless as the wage subsidy fund dries up.
The wage subsidy scheme allowed qualifying organisations to claim more than $7000 for a full-time employee and $4200 for a part-time employee, with the total amount for all covered employees paid in a lump sum to cover a 12-week period.
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Applications opened from March 17, and those who get the money must retain employees for the duration of the 12-week subsidy, measured from the date of the application. As an example, if a business applied on April 7 this period ends on June 30.
It is clear now, to avoid further inequities, urgency is needed in job growth and creation before this month is out.