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Financial support during COVID-19 (New Zealand)

April 2020

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Background

The New Zealand Government has announced a range of measures to support people and the economy with a $12.1 billion support package in response to the Coronavirus health crisis. These measures are summarised in this document.


Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme

The wage subsidy is to help keep businesses going if they face laying off staff, or reducing staff hours because of COVID-19. If you’re an employer, contractor, sole trader or are self-employed you may qualify. The subsidy is a lump sum payment for the employer to pass on to employees and covers 12 weeks per employee.

All New Zealand employers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 are eligible to apply. This includes:

  • registered charities
  • Non-government organisations (NGOs)
  • the self-employed and sole traders
  • contractors
  • incorporated societies, and
  • post-settlement governance entities.

If you're an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy. To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • your business is registered and operating in New Zealand
  • your employees are legally working in New Zealand, including employees who:
    a)    have a NZ work visa
    b)    have a condition on their NZ temporary visa that allows them to work in NZ
    c)    are international students whose visa allows them to work in NZ
  • your business has experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19
  • your business has taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
  • you must retain the employees named in your application for the period of the subsidy.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week (full-time rate
  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week (part-time rate).

► More information on the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme

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COVID-19: Rent Freeze and Tenancy Terminations

The Government has introduced a freeze to residential rent increases and greater protections for tenants against having their tenancies terminated.  This has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act, and includes the following measures:

  • There is now a freeze on rent increases.
  • A rent-increase notice from a landlord will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent, unless the rent increase has already taken effect.
  • Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances, regardless of when notice was provided.
  • Tenants will still be able to terminate their tenancy as normal, if they wish
  • Tenants will have the ability to revoke termination notices that they have already given, in case they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period.

Period of the measures

  • The measures take effect from Thursday, 26 March.
  • The rent freeze applies for an initial period of six months.
  • The protections against terminations will apply for an initial period of three months.
  • At the end of both initial periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.

► More information on COVID-19: Rent Freeze and Tenancy Terminations

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Mortgage repayment holiday scheme

New Zealand’s retail banks are offering to defer repayments for all residential mortgages for up to 6 months for customers financially affected by COVID-19.

Mortgage repayment deferrals mean that affected customers who apply successfully to their bank will not be required to make principal and interest payments on their loans for up to 6 months. This package is in addition to what banks are already doing individually to provide assistance to affected customers.

Key details of this scheme:

  • It’s important to know that interest on these loans will still accrue, and deferred interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan.
  • Banks will assess the suitability for each customer who is asking for a deferral.
  • Banks will have different approaches to how they manage the process for customers to opt into a mortgage deferral. Those details, including eligibility criteria, will be available on bank websites.
  • Customers should contact their bank for further details or queries about the scheme.

► More information on the mortgage repayment holiday scheme

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Business Finance Guarantee Scheme

The Government has launched a Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy. The Government, in partnership with participating approved banks, will support targeted new loans (including increases to existing limits) to eligible businesses, as a response to difficulties caused by COVID-19.

Under the scheme, businesses with annual revenue between $250,000 and $80 million can apply to their banks for loans of up to $500,000, for up to 3 years. The scheme will offer a total of $6.25 billion in loans to New Zealand businesses.

The Government is guaranteeing 80% of the risk, while the banks are covering the remaining 20%. A normal lending process will be followed by the banks, which will make the lending decisions. Further details can be found on the banks’ websites.     

► More information on the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme

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Disclaimer – This summary is not intended to provide financial advice and should not be construed or relied upon. Please seek professional advice from a licenced advisor to determine if the above measures are accessible taking into account your individual circumstances.