The Labour Party has launched its re-election campaign in Auckland today by announcing a major support package to assist businesses in hiring at least 40,000 New Zealanders whose employment is impacted by Covid-19.
The Government’s existing Flexi-wage scheme - a wage subsidy to help employers hire those on a benefit at risk of long-term unemployment - is being revamped and expanded by more than doubling the average amount a business can access to hire a worker and significantly scaling up the scheme to reach 40,000 New Zealanders.
$30 million will also be ring-fenced to help out-of-work Kiwis start a business through an expanded Flexi-Wage Self Employment programme, which will provide the equivalent of the minimum wage for up to 30-hours a week.
“The new Flexi-wage scheme is a key plank of our economic plan to support businesses to recover and to provide jobs to those who have lost work due to Covid,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“It will directly help businesses who are getting back on their feet after lockdown to take on new staff while also supporting those New Zealanders who have lost their jobs to get back into work and off a benefit quicker.
“Our team of 5 million approach to fighting Covid means there is huge willingness in our business community to avoid unemployment rising by retaining staff and taking on new employees where they can, but many just need a little bit of extra support to do that, which this package provides.
“Businesses large and small are crucial to our economic recovery, but they can’t do it alone. The Flexi-wage is a way for the Government to partner with the private sector to support job creation.
“The Flexi-Wage is targeted at businesses hiring someone who has lost their job and are on a benefit. With over 20,000 New Zealanders now receiving the Covid-19 Income Relief Payment and more on the unemployment benefit it is critical we are doing all we can to help get these often skilled workers back into jobs as quickly as possible.
“The additional investment will also include more funding for people to start their own business. It’s important to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation as part of the Covid recovery without forcing people to use their retirement savings to get back on their feet.
“Those without formal training qualifications, those over 50, disabled people, and Māori and Pasifika workers will disproportionately bear the brunt of an economic downturn. The scheme is designed to support those hardest hit to find work again.
“This is a scheme that works. Evaluations show it generates $7 in benefits for every dollar invested and that 70 per cent of people hired during the evaluation period had a job at the end of it.
“Labour’s economic plan is working. Our low unemployment rate shows the wage subsidy scheme has worked to stop a spike in unemployment, and now we have a laser-like focus on jobs and business support to support growth.
“We need to keep moving with our plan. The Flexi-Wage is just the latest addition to the raft of jobs initiatives and business support we have already put in place to drive our economic recovery,” Jacinda Ardern said.
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