Weekly Digest – 10 November 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

NZ-Cook Islands Travel Bubble to Resume

Quarantine-free travel is set to resume between New Zealand and the Cook Islands from 14 January 2022. The two-way bubble is still dependent on what regional travel restrictions are in place at the beginning of next year.

Travellers will need to have proof of full vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before departing New Zealand.

Auckland on Track to Exit Lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has further eased COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland this week and announced that the city is on track to exit lockdown by the end of the month.

Ardern also announced that Auckland retailers and malls can reopen starting 10 November. The government expects Auckland to reach the milestone of being 90% fully vaccinated within weeks, allowing it to move out of most remaining lockdown restrictions.

Thousands Protest Against COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

New Zealand beefed up security measures at its parliament on Tuesday as thousands of people gathered to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and government lockdowns.

This is after the Prime Minister announced that teachers and workers in the health and disability sectors will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and that restrictions will only be lifted after 90% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, its double-dose vaccination rate had reached nearly 80%.

Support Package for 346,000 Families

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a range of measures that will boost incomes for 346,000 families by an average of $20 per week and lift an additional 6,000 children out of poverty.

The support measures for low-income households include increasing a family tax credit by almost $15 per week for the eldest child, and NZ$13 per week for subsequent children.

Events Transition Support Scheme Launched

The Events Transition Support Scheme has been opened from this week which will cover 90% of unrecoverable costs for major events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. It will apply to live, in-person paid events with over 5,000 attendees from 17 December until 3 April 2022.

Cybersecurity Attacks on Small Businesses Double

In the past three years, cybersecurity attacks on New Zealand small businesses have doubled.

The 2021 HP New Zealand IT Security Survey found cybersecurity attacks on small businesses doubled compared to 2018, with 54% of respondents seeing evidence of security breaches in their workplace in the past year.

This is despite mid-market businesses nearly tripling their investment in IT security over the past three years. With businesses facing an average cost of $159,000 per attack, 37% of respondents reported increasing their investment in cybersecurity amid the pandemic.

Support available to you

Work and Income has a Find COVID-19 Support tool to help you find the support options you’re eligible for.

If your business has to close temporarily or reduce opening hours

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

The Wage Subsidy August 2021 is available to eligible businesses in New Zealand affected by the continuation of Alert Levels 3 and 4 from 17 August 2021.

Businesses and self-employed people must meet the decline in revenue tests to be eligible to receive the wage subsidy.

The wage subsidy is paid in a 2 week lump sum. You can get:

  • $600 per week for each full-time employee
  • $359 per week for each part-time worker retained.

As an employer you must pass on the full wage subsidy to your employee. If the wage subsidy is more than your employee’s pay, you can continue to pay them at their normal rate.

Find out more about the Leave Support Scheme on the Work and Income website.

COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment

The COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment helps cover wages and fixed costs for businesses who have been directly affected when there is an increase to Alert Level 2 or higher for a week or more.

To be eligible, your business must have experienced at least a 30% drop in revenue or a 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a 7-day period, due to the increase in Alert Levels.

You can receive $1,500 per business plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), up to 50 FTE. If you’re a sole trader, you can receive a payment of up to $1,900.

Applications for the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment are open. You need to apply through Inland Revenue. Businesses anywhere in New Zealand can apply if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Find out more information about the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment and how to apply here.

If your business has reduced revenue

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

If you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. This is a one-off 5 year loan where you can borrow a maximum of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.

  • When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
  • Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year.
  • Applications are open until 31 December 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within 2 years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of 5 years.

IRD tax assistance

If you’re finding it hard to meet your tax obligations, Inland Revenue may be able to help. Get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Insolvency relief

The COVID-19 Business Debt Hibernation scheme allows businesses to get a month’s protection while they talk to their creditors.

If an employee needs to self isolate

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

If an employee cannot work from home while self-isolating, you may be able to apply for financial support so they can continue to get paid.

The Leave Support Scheme is paid as a 2 week lump sum at the rate of:

  • $600 a week for full-time employees
  • $359 a week for part-time employees

You cannot get the Wage Subsidy August 2021, Leave Support Scheme and Short-Term Absence Payment for the same employee at the same time.

If an employee is awaiting the result of a COVID-19 rest

COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

The Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay employees who cannot work from home while they wait at home for a COVID-19 test result. This is a one-off payment of $350. You can find the details here.

Kiwi Business Boost Tool

The Government has funded specialist consultancy support services to provide advice to businesses who need it. You can use the Kiwi Business Boost Tool to find out what services are available in your region.

The Treasury website’s COVID-19 Economic Response Measures can also provide more information on the range of support available to businesses.

Training Incentive Allowance

The Training Incentive Allowance can help with tuition fees, books, childcare, equipment, transport and any additional caring costs while studying. It’s available for courses at levels 1-7 of the NZ Qualifications Framework. Visit the Work and Income website to find out who’s eligible, how much you can get and who can apply.

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