Work 'urgently underway' as wage subsidy scheme jumps $4.2 billion amid coronavirus

Work is "urgently underway" to secure income of New Zealanders as the country's Covid-19 alert system has risen to three, and will go up to four in 48 hours. 

Source: Breakfast

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement this afternoon that the nation will need to go into self-isolation for a month. 

Last week, the Government announced a $12.1 billion Covid-19 business package, including a $8.7 billion injection into business and jobs, including wage subsidies and tax changes. 

Originally, $5.1 billion for wage subsidies will go to any business that has had a 30 per cent or more decline between January to June 2020. 

Employers would be paid $585.80 per week for full-time staff and $350 for part-time workers, with payments capped at $150,000 per business. They payments will be available for 12 weeks and paid in a lump sum.

That $5.1 billion figure has now jumped up to $9.3 billion - pulling the worth of the entire business package up to $16.3 billion. 

"What we've done today is extend our support and to keep New Zealanders in work," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said today. 

"We have to borrow this money, this is additional support required."

The $150,000 business cap has been removed completely and will also include charities and non-government organisations. 

Mr Robertson said freezing rent increases and extending no clause terminations were being looked at "to support people in this difficult time". 

Cabinet, the Reserve Bank and banks also agree in principle to extend lending to firms that were otherwise viable, and for significant support for mortgage holders.