Govt to offer new 'transition payment' to businesses

Source: 1News

The Government is offering a "transition payment" to businesses affected by the move to the Covid-19 traffic light system.

New Zealand money.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Monday said the payment was particularly for businesses in Auckland, Waikato and Northland to acknowledge the restrictions they faced under higher alert levels.

He said the payment was at a higher base rate than the current Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) and would be $4000 per business, plus $400 per full-time equivalent (FTE) worker up to a cap of 50 FTEs – a maximum payment of $24,000.

"To be clear about this, if it is deemed necessary targeted support would only be available under the Red setting of the new system as businesses that operate vaccine passes have no significant restrictions at Orange and Green," Robertson said.

Treasury has estimated the likely total cost of the payment, which will be available from December 10, to be between $350 and $490 million.

"As I said last month, we are moving away from the broad based economic supports provided under the alert level system," Robertson said.

"This is because at all levels of the new framework, most businesses will be able to operate at almost full capacity.

"On Friday, the final wage subsidy and RSP opened for applications. These will still open, and pay out even though we are moving to the new framework, in addition to the transition payment." he added.

Support to be off work while isolating or to take leave while waiting for test results, currently provided by the Leave Support Scheme (LSS) and the Short Term Absence Payment, will also remain available under all levels of the traffic light system.

Robertson added, though, that "the LSS will move to a weekly payment rather than fortnightly under the new system, reflecting the changed isolation period".

Meanwhile, Cabinet has also agreed to change the rules so recently acquired businesses can access the RSP.

"This issue arose because the RSP rules required the applicant to have been operating as a business for at least one month before August 17 so businesses acquired after July 17 have not been eligible for any payment," Robertson said.

"I estimate very few businesses have will been in this situation, but for those that are, it will have been a difficult time.

"The test will now be that the business itself must have been in operation for at least one month prior to August 17 and the business must be carrying on the same or similar activity as before the change in ownership.

"The revenue decline test also needs to be amended to allow the applicant to use the revenue received by the previous owner over the comparator period in order to demonstrate the necessary revenue decline during the affected period."

This change will come into effect on December 10, and recently acquired businesses would then be eligible for RSPs made on and after October 29.