Owning a business can be difficult at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on how many of us operate for well over a year now and has caused permanent changes to the way we conduct business. Thankfully, the New Zealand Government has provided some financial support to help our country get through. Below is a summary of the financial support available to help you, your business, and your employees navigate COVID-19.
There are now several COVID-19 financial support schemes available to help businesses, and eligibility for each will depend on your situation. Some support is only available at certain alert levels. See the table below for what schemes are available to businesses at each Alert Level:
Wage Subsidy Scheme:
You can read more about the Wage Subsidy Scheme in our article here, but we’ve summarised the basic information below.
Applications for the August Wage Subsidy Scheme opened on Friday 20th August 2021 through the Work and Income website. This Subsidy is a payment available to help employers pay their employees and to protect jobs for businesses that have been affected by the recent move to Alert Level 4. It is available to all eligible businesses, organisations and self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the nationwide move to Alert Level 4 on 17th August 2021.
Those wanting to apply for the Subsidy will need to show that they have experienced, or expect to experience, a revenue decrease of at least 40% due to the alert level change to be eligible. As a result of increased wage costs since the original March 2020 Wage Subsidy Scheme, the payments available this time have been increased to $600 per week per full-time equivalent employee (20 hours or more a week) and $359 per week per part-time employee (less the 20 hours a week).
Leave Support Scheme:
The Leave Support Scheme has been established to provide businesses with funding to pay their employees who meet certain health criteria, for example, if the employee has COVID-19. This payment is available to the self-employed as well. You will be applicable for this payment if you or your staff have been instructed by a health official to self-isolate AND you are unable to work from your place of isolation.
This payment is paid as a lump sum to cover a fortnightly period (although you can reapply if necessary). $600 per week is available for full-time equivalent employees and $359 per week for part-time workers. Businesses are no longer required to show an actual or predicted decline in revenue or that their ability to support an employee has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 to be eligible for the payment.
Short-Term Absence Payments:
The Short-Term Absence Payment is available through Work and Income to businesses at all Alert Levels. The payment scheme is for businesses who must pay employees who are following public health guidelines and are staying at home in isolation while waiting to receive a COVID-19 test result AND they are unable to work from home. This payment is also available to eligible self-employed people. A one-off payment of $359 is available for each eligible worker. Employers can apply for any worker once in any 30-day period.
Resurgence Support Payment (RSP):
The RSP is available to businesses who have or are expecting to have, a 30% decrease in revenue over a seven-day period due to a COVID-19 alert level increase to Level 2 or higher. Applications for this payment opened at 8am on Tuesday 24th August 2021 and will remain open for one month after a nationwide return to Alert Level 1. This is not a loan payment, so it will not need to be repaid. The Resurgence Support Payment has been created to help businesses cover expenses such as wages, rent and other fixed costs.
Amongst other eligibility criteria, the decrease in revenue over a seven-day period is compared to the business' typical seven-day period in the six weeks leading up to the increase in Alert Level. Seasonal businesses will need to show a 30% revenue drop compared with a similar week the previous year. Charities, not-for-profit organisations, the self-employed and pre-revenue businesses, such as start-ups, may also be eligible for the RSP. Following recent changes to the eligibility criteria, some individual businesses or organisations within a commonly owned group may now be eligible for the payment as well.
It is important to note that the decrease in revenue must be a direct result of the change in the alert level and not just the effect of COVID-19 in general. To be eligible for this payment, you must have been in business for a minimum of six months. Further eligibility criteria and information on how to apply can be found on the Inland Revenue website
Small Business Cash Flow Loan Scheme (SBCS)
Small businesses, including sole traders and the self-employed, who have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for loans from the government to provide cash flow support. Applications for the loan will remain open until 31 December 2023 through myIR, and you can reapply for the loan after you have fully repaid the previous one received. This loan is intended to aid small businesses, those with 50 full-time employees or less, by lending up to a maximum of $100,000. Most applicants should expect to receive their loan payment in full from the Inland Revenue within five working days. You can also choose to take a smaller loan than offered. The loan is broken down like this:
$10,000 is available to eligible businesses, with an extra $1800 per full-time equivalent employee. The maximum amount available to you will depend on the number of employees you have.
The loan is interest-free if it is paid back within two years, after that an interest-free rate of 3% is applied for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are also not required for the first two years.
You will have to show a minimum 30% drop in revenue due to COVID-19, taken over a 14-day period in the past six months compared to the same 14-day period a year ago.
Business debt hibernation
Applications for this scheme close on 31 October 2021. Created in response to COVID-19, the business debt hibernation scheme is designed to help companies, trusts, and other business entities effectively manage their debts when they have been affected by COVID-19. If you are eligible, the scheme can help your business by:
Creating arrangements for your existing debts, such as paying creditors a percentage of the amount owing to them on time and delaying the rest.
Allowing you a month of protection while you set up the enforce so that creditors are unable to enforce their debts.
On creditor's approval, you may get an extra six months of protection.
If COVID-19 has your head spinning and you would like to chat about what support is available to you or your business, or if you’re just after a friendly chin wag with someone from iCLAW, get in touch with one of our team members.
Photo Credit: Alex Green