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National would make it easier for people who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 downturn easier to start their own business - with access to KiwiSaver and tax breaks, totaling at least $30,000.

The Business Start policy, launched in Petone today by leader Judith Collins, would allow people to access up to $20,000 of their KiwiSaver funds for a start-up business.

"It's your money that you've put aside for a rainy day," she said.

"Well, if you've lost your job, it's not raining, it's pouring."

National leader Judith Collins unveiled her small business policy at a Petone car yard today. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National leader Judith Collins unveiled her small business policy at a Petone car yard today. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Collins said 200,000 Kiwis were currently on unemployment benefits and "another 400,000" jobs were at risk and being kept alive by the wage subsidy scheme that ends on September 1.

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"By Christmas, as many as half a million Kiwis may be unemployed."

She noted she had personally run three successful start-up businesses before entering politics.

"No government creates jobs", she said, it was the business owners who did that.

This scheme would be in place for 17 months to address a crisis of "mass unemployment" due to Covid.

"We should not give up on people just because they've been made redundant," Collins said.

People's KiwiSaver money was currently sitting in managed funds, including held in foreign shares.

"National says it may be more valuable to you invested in your own business. It's your choice whether to leave it with the fund managers or invest it yourself," Collins said.

"We know people will criticise us for this. We want them to tell us why it's better for Kiwis to have their money invested in Wall Street rather than in their Kiwi High Street."

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Kiwis encouraged to start their own business

Under National's scheme people setting up a business who have been made redundant will be able to use the taxed portion of redundancy as a tax credit with Inland Revenue to pay GST on the business – for example $50,000 on a redundancy payment of $150,000.

To be eligible, those who have lost their jobs since March 1 would need a business plan signed off by a chartered accountant or a registered financial adviser - and they would receive $1000 towards that professional help.

The business plan would then need to be signed off by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment before becoming eligible for Business Start.

Those who didn't have redundancy for a tax credit could receive a $10,000 tax credit – $5000 on day one and another $5000 after 90 days.

And their Company Office registration fee of $130 would be paid if they set up a company.

"We think Business Start should be for all New Zealanders who lose their job," said Collins.

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"Right now, around 200,000 New Zealanders are on unemployment benefits.

"Another 400,000 jobs are at risk, being kept alive through the wage subsidy scheme, which ends on 1 September – the day before overseas voting begins.

"By Christmas, as many as half a million Kiwis may be unemployed. All of us will know someone who loses their job. It could be you."

The policy also includes a new contestable fund of $10 million for additional advisers and business mentors that organisations such as Chambers of Commerce could pitch for.

Collins billed the policy as a companion to National's Job Start policy, announced in May, that would provide $10,000 cash grants to every New Zealand business, for every new permanent full-time employee hired – up to 10 new staff, or $100,000 per business – after November 1.

It had been planned to run for five months until the end of this financial year, 31 March 2021 but Collins said it would run until March 2022.

Business Start recipients would also be able to write off all new investment of up to $150,000 per new asset instantly under previously announced policy.

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Former National leader Simon Bridges unveiled a policy in May to refund GST for businesses badly affected by Covid-19.

If the business could demonstrate that its revenue had fallen by more than 50 per cent across two successive months, it would be able to claim back the GST it had paid between July 2019 and January 2020, up to a maximum of $100,000.

The next leader, Todd Muller, unveiled the Job Start policy that would give businesses $10,000 for every new employee they took on after November - $5000 at the time of hire and another $5000 after 90 days.

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