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'They simply can't take anymore' - Judith Collins says timing of minimum wage increase will hurt struggling businesses

National leader Judith Collins has questioned the timing of tomorrow’s minimum wage increase, saying it it’s an additional cost for beleaguered businesses as a result of the Covid pandemic.

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National’s leader discussed the issues on Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

From tomorrow, the minimum goes up from $18.90 an hour to $20, with Collins telling Breakfast it’s an additional cost for struggling businesses.

“Right at the moment with about 1000 business having closed recently, a lot of people particularly in the hospitality sector are telling us that they simply can’t take anymore increases because they’re having trouble even paying their rent,” Collins told Breakfast.

“I actually think it’s probably not the right time right now for it.”

Collins was a supporter of the increase to the income abatement threshold, which is also coming into force tomorrow.

Under the change, people on the Supported Living Payment, veteran’s pension, and NZ Super can now earn up to $160 a week before their benefit is cut. Currently, they can only earn $115 a week before their benefit was reduced.

Collins said she supported any measure that gets people into work.

“I’ve got no problem around the abatement issues, I think what that means of course is that people on a benefit can get work without actually losing their benefit,” she said.

“If we can get people into work that is significantly better and even the minimum wage pays about three times what the benefit does so it is really important that we keep people in work.”

Collins also reiterated calls for the Government to set targets for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, saying Colombia was the only other developed country without a target.

“We are out there as an outlier without any targets, if you don’t have any targets you can’t hold a Government to account but also people should be able to know where they are in the queue as such and they should know when they can expect it,” she said.

“Targets are a good way of getting good action from DHBs and the ministries.”