Big boost to Covid unemployment benefit

A big boost to benefits for people who have become unemployed mostly due to Covid (since 1 March) has been both welcomed and criticised.

New payment to support Kiwis through COVID

The Government today announced a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due to the global COVID-19 pandemic to adjust and find new employment or retrain.

  • Further support for New Zealanders affected by 1-in-100 year global economic shock
  • 12-week payment will support people searching for new work or retraining
  • Work programme on employment insurance to support workers and businesses

A new COVID Income Relief Payment is being introduced, alongside a wider work programme on possible future employment insurance as we rebuild our economy in a way that supports workers and businesses together.

The payment will be available for 12 weeks from 8 June for anyone who has lost their job due to the impact of COVID-19 since March 1. It will pay $490 a week to those who lost full-time work and $250 for part-time. The payment will not be taxed.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the payment acknowledges that the global economy is facing a 1-in-100 year recession, which is impacting on New Zealand, and supports the Governments priority of protecting jobs where possible and supporting workers back into jobs where necessary.

The scheme announced today is very similar to the Job Loss Cover payment introduced by the previous Government during the Canterbury earthquakes, and has a number of similarities to the ReStart package for workers who lost their jobs in the Global Financial Crisis.

Receipt of the payment comes with expectations from the Government, and responsibilities. People who receive the COVID payment will be required to:

  • Be available for, and actively seeking, suitable work opportunities while they receive the payment
  • Take appropriate steps towards gaining new employment; and
  • Identify and take opportunities for employment, re-deployment and training.

Students who have lost part-time work as a result of COVID-19 may also be eligible for the part-time rate.

The 12-week scheme is forecast to cost about $570 million. This incorporates $1.2 billion of payments offset by $635 million of saved benefit payments, with small administrative costs. This fits with the Government’s intention for COVID response spending to be targeted, temporary and timely. It will be funded from the COVID Response and Recovery Fund.

Susan Edmunds (Stuff): Unemployment payment scheme shows Govt knows benefits insufficient

“The Government’s announcement that it will introduce a new payment of up to $490 a week for people who lose work because of Covid-19 will be welcome to the thousands of people expected to find themselves out of a job in the coming months.

But you can’t help thinking that it will be a rude shock to those who were already unemployed, who could barely dream of the sort of income the Government will provide those newly jobless.

The new scheme is generous – about twice the rate of the JobSeeker Support benefit – and, crucially, your partner can earn up to $2000 a week before tax, without it affecting your ability to claim.

Compare that to the Jobseeker Support, where you and your partner can only earn a combined $90 a week before it starts to reduce the rate of benefit you can qualify for.

A household receiving this new Covid-19 support could end up bringing in $1976 a week for 12 weeks, after tax, in total. That’s a much more comfortable life than the $375 for a single parent (plus up to $305 in accommodation supplement) on Jobseeker Support.

It seems that the Government has decided there are two classes of unemployed – those “worthy” unemployed who are only out of a job because of a global pandemic, and so should be allowed to carry on with their lives much as before, and those “unworthy” who lost their jobs or were unable to work for other reasons and so should be expected to live a subsistence lifestyle.”

Gezza commented:


This also came up on 1News at 6 last night & Robertson’s attempt to defend the government’s decision to be more generous to presumably a high proportion of white middle class pakeha affected by Covid-19 was presented in a way that made him appear unconvincing.

Muller was shown pointing out (as Labour would if in Opposition) that this was unfair & there needed to be consistency & equivalence.

Muller also said in that 1News item that the focus should be on businesses and how to keep them afloat to keep people in jobs.

Newshub’s picked it up too:

“We support supporting New Zealanders in a moment of significant need, but our concern with that announcement is it’s ill-defined and ill-directed,” he said on Monday during a press conference.

“What would’ve been better is a stronger focus on businesses to keep them in business… When we build together our economic plan, our focus will be on what do those small businesses actually need to be able to stay afloat. And I think that’s where the focus should be.”

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/05/todd-muller-slams-government-s-income-relief-payments-as-ill-defined-and-ill-directed.html

Leave a comment

21 Comments

  1. David

     /  26th May 2020

    Lots of things being done primarily to get Ardern re elected with the economy a secondary concern.
    Be nice to see some effort made to help businesses who give these people jobs in the form of a much better designed probationary wage before hitting the minimum wage perhaps. Maybe a less stringent 90 day trial period. Some more RMA reform and fast tracked consenting expanded to the private sector.
    There seems little thought beyond blowing out the debt.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  26th May 2020

      As Susan Edmunds’ Stuff article points out this announcement also increases the pressure on the government to raise all benefits, at a time when borrowing has massively increased, after Robertson had been trying to follow a more “responsible” conservative fiscal policy of “Yes, we will, when we can afford it”.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  26th May 2020

        Benefits have all been raised ….$25 pw for the core benefit , the winter supplement doubled to $40 pw

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  26th May 2020

          It’s not been near enough, according to the Maori female advocate who got a lot of air time on 1News at 6 last night. I had a quick look at the tvnz website this morning to see if a video of their segment on this topic was up there but couldn’t find it. They are a bit haphazard in that respect.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  26th May 2020

            Not nearly enough – which is what they would say- isnt the same as havent raised.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  26th May 2020

              Who said they haven’t been raised? Everyone knows they were. Advocates say they need to be raised.

          • Fight4nz

             /  27th May 2020

            I heard a woman saying much the same on the radio… while completely omitting the state house she lived in from the equation. Is that equivalence with the suddenly redundant homeowner?

            Reply
  2. Duker

     /  26th May 2020

    “What would’ve been better is a stronger focus on businesses to keep them in business…”

    Ahh the trickle down effect or is he suggesting Keys 3 or 4 day working week with the government making up the wages.
    However doesnt sound like any ideas other than soothing words for his core constituency

    Labour is offering small business loans – which is ‘keeping them in business”

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  26th May 2020

      Labour is offering small business loans – which is ‘keeping them in business”

      Turning equity into debt with the prospect of greatly depressed turnover for several years will not keep anyone in business.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  26th May 2020

        So are you suggesting helicopter money for small business ?…ah no you are like Muller whos taking over Bridges voice and just criticise everything

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  26th May 2020

          No, I’m telling you the unnecessary destruction of the economy is not reversible and the costs of the destroyed businesses will lie with many New Zealanders for the rest of their lives as will the lost opportunities for youth employment.

          The preening of the Health Nazis and Saint Jacinda along with their fawning uncritical media acolytes will soon just be a bitter memory.

          Reply
    • David

       /  26th May 2020

      Didnt mention trickle down or taxpayer money at all, cant you read.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  26th May 2020

        Never said you did it was responding to the quote in the main story.not you
        ….My view wasnt in quotes
        Doesnt seem you even see properly…..Specsavers

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  26th May 2020

      However doesnt sound like any ideas other than soothing words for his core constituency

      True enuf. Might be working on it; but may want to hold off on policy specifics in case Grant plagiarises.

      Reply
    • Pink David

       /  26th May 2020

      “Labour is offering small business loans – which is ‘keeping them in business””

      This is helicopter money. The vast majority of it will never be repaid.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  26th May 2020

        Yes. When national gets into government and they would bail out the landlords too

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  26th May 2020

          The government doesn’t have the money to bail out the landlords. The banks will need it all.

          Reply
  3. Pink David

     /  26th May 2020

    Just keep the morphine on until the election. It’s all be fine.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  26th May 2020

      Not for my taxi driver on the way back from the endodontist.

      (Just had another earthquake. Heard it coming first.)

      Level 4 cut his business completely, he said. There’s still virtually none. He qualified for govt assistance & took it. His partner works part time on temp contract for Westpac. Her work dried up. She doesn’t qualify for anything.

      He mentioned there are about 8 young ‘uns of voting age in his extended family (he’s a Kiwi Indian) & he’s amazed how little they know or think about politics – not like when he was their age.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  26th May 2020

        Earthquake Details

        When Tue May 26 2020 12:34 PM
        Where 30 km north-west of Levin
        Shaking Moderate
        Magnitude 5.2
        Depth 32 km
        Quality best

        Reply
      • One of the local taxidrivers was over 70 and seems to have been forcibly retired. The other one had to work from home, so may have lost business because people thought that if there was no taxi at the rank, there would be none in L4.

        I was once on the 14th or 16th floor of the WestPac building in Lambton Quay when there was an earthquake. The building was earthquake proof, so swayed merrily from side to side. None of us were worried except a Hungarian woman who hadn’t been in NZ long enough to have been through an earthquake and went grey-green with terror.

        Reply

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