Around $1.5bn has been paid out so far by the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, says finance minister Grant Robertson.
The money had been allocated to 244,887 workers across 72,913 applications to the initiative.
There were another 111,898 applications that had been approved and were about to be paid, said Robertson at a media update today.
There were another 47,434 applications to be processed. The figures were up-to-date as at 9am today.
“This is and has been a result of an extraordinary effort by the Ministry of Social Development and I want to thank their staff who are under enormous pressure,” said Robertson.
“I just want to reiterate that the wage subsidy scheme is available to all businesses, self-employed, sole traders, contractors, NGOs, charities. In a sense, most organisations in New Zealand outside of the pubic sector.”
Robertson said the wage subsidy was for employers to “make their best endeavours to pay their employees 80% of their incomes but acknowledging that this is best endeavours”.
“Let me be very clear: We would rather people stayed employed than not,” he said.
“We continue to work on updated guidance on the scheme and we urge businesses to take the time to talk to employees, to their banks, and to make a plan to get through this. We do not want people to be laid off. We do not want people to think they have to lay off their staff and the scheme is designed to prevent that.”
The Government estimated the wage subsidy scheme would cost $9.3bn.
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