Nearly $9 billion in wage subsidies paid to 1.4 million workers across New Zealand

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Almost $9 billion has been paid out overall for the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme for 1.4 million employees, the Finance Minister said today. 

It’s part of the Government’s $12.1 billion Covid-19 relief package.

Grant Robertson told the epidemic select committee the $8.9 billion figure was at 11pm on April 9, as no further payments were paid out over the long weekend, but there would be more payments made today. 

He said of the 1.4 million employees, more than 185,000 were self employed. 

Just two days earlier on April 7, the Prime Minister said $6.6 billion had been paid out, with $1.3 billion paid on April 6 alone. 

The scheme is $585.80 per week for full-time workers and $350 for part-time workers. It is paid in a lump sum over 12 weeks. Overall, a full time worker is a total payment of $7,029.60. Businesses need to have had a 30 per cent or more decline between January to June 2020.

The estimated cost of the wage subsidy scheme jumped in only 10 days from $5.1 billion on March 17, to an estimated cost of between $8 billion to $12 billion on March 27. 

Mr Robertson also told the select committee the mortgage deferral scheme had received 70,000 applications as of two days ago and there was "no doubt" that number would now be higher. 

Earlier this month, National leader Simon Bridges questioned Mr Robertson on the amount paid out under the scheme, asking whether the amount was enough to keep workers in some jobs, suggesting it be moved up to the median wage. 

He called a potential increase a "much more realistic proposition for larger and higher wage businesses". 

Mr Robertson said the level was chosen as it was the maximum level of the Paid Parental Scheme, but they would continue monitoring it. 

It comes as Treasury today released modelling of different economic scenarios based on the length of the lockdown, the level of global economic slowdown and the Government's fiscal intervention. 

The scenarios varied between unemployment hitting 25 per cent if the lockdown lasts for six months, but kept under 10 per cent in another scenario with a four week lockdown and an additional $20 billion of spending.