Hard-hit businesses call for Resurgence Support Payment to be made weekly

Source: 1News

The Government Resurgence Support Payment is being described as a “token gesture” and a “drop in the ocean” by businesses struggling to cope under lockdown.

There’s now backing across the board to make the one-off payments weekly.

Even at Alert Level 2, restrictions are hitting businesses in the pocket.

“Fifty to 70 per cent of my business will come through that Auckland market,” Century Park MotorLodge’s Staci Warren said.

Eighteen months of a global pandemic has taken its toll, with Nelson businessman Tony Crosby saying they’re “in the process of still paying back debt from the last Covid outbreak”.

“There is no fuel in the tank and this time, we're going to come out to another average to bad summer like last year because there is no influx of tourism from overseas,” he said.

There are two main forms of assistance: the wage subsidy, which keeps employees paid; and the Resurgence Support Payment, which provides payments for fixed costs such as rent and insurance.

Crosby called the resurgence payment “a token gesture this time”.

“It's just a drop in the ocean,” Warren added.

Auckland's Queen Street under Covid restrictions.

The one-off payment starts at $1500, with $400 per full-time employee for up to 50 employees - a maximum of $21,500.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett says they’ve been calling for it to be made into weekly instalments.

The call is being supported across the board, with industry groups representing the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors all backing the move for a weekly Resurgence Support Payment.

Warren has, on average, $50,000 in bills to pay per month.

“I've claimed the wage subsidy which was $5272 and I've claimed the resurgence payment which was $3500 so somewhere in this gap, we are $40,000 short,” she said.

Barnett said there’s “so many small businesses out there that are just recovering from last year and they've come into this year with debt and this lockdown is giving them further debt”.

Around $1.2 billion has already been paid out in the wage subsidy, which remains available for the entire country while Auckland remains in lockdown.

Changes are under consideration, however.

“We're very likely in the future to have a situation where Auckland is no longer in those alert levels but [businesses] may, of course, still have ongoing need for support,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.