National’s wage subsidy policy will hurt business confidence

National’s new suggestion that it will look to take money from companies that used the wage subsidy legitimately will send shockwaves through the business community, Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“Judith Collins’ indication that her Government would introduce a new law to take money off businesses who used the wage subsidy is unbelievable from someone who purports to head the party of business. 

“Her position doesn’t even seem to be shared by her Finance Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, who said this morning that National agreed with the wage subsidy despite some quibbling around the edges about it.

“The wage subsidy was a lifeline for tens of thousands of New Zealand businesses, and protected 1.7 million jobs during the Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions. It was put in place early to give businesses the time and space to make decisions as they faced up to the 1-in-100 year shock caused by COVID-19. 

“Looking at this with 20-20 hindsight might be easy in Opposition, but we stand by our decision to protect jobs and cushion the blow. There is no way Labour would go back on the agreements we had with those private businesses who used the wage subsidy legitimately.

“We’ve also been clear that we will go after people caught abusing the wage subsidy. An investigations team across MSD and MBIE is carrying out audits of companies, including where there are complaints laid by the public. That work is carrying on to catch companies who abused the wage subsidy.

“MSD reports that nearly $450 million has been returned by more than 15,000 businesses. We welcome the decisions from businesses that did this voluntarily. While we expect more businesses will return the subsidy over time, we’re certainly not going to ride over companies who followed the law and are now on the road to recovery.”