Labour leader Jacinda Ardern at the campaign launch in Auckland today. Photo/Facebook
At today's campaign launch, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has announced a support package aimed at assisting businesses employ 40,000 Kiwis whose employment is impacted by Covid-19 if the party is returned to government.
During her campaign speech in Auckland, Ardern said she was aware Māori and Pacifika are disproportionately affected by economic downturns.
"And we also know that those without formal training qualifications, those over 50, disabled people, and Māori and Pacifika workers will disproportionately bear the brunt of economic downturns – they are often in industries where job losses are most common and are the last industries to recover.
"Some call it economic scarring – the long lasting damage to individuals of an economic down turn. I call it the loss of potential, and the greatest of wastes, and I am determined it will not happen on Labour’s watch."
Ardern said these considerations were a factor in the decision to announce the support package.
"That’s why I’m announcing today, that if Labour is returned to government we will roll out a support package to assist businesses in employing up to 40,000 New Zealanders whose employment is impacted by Covid-19."
In a media statement earlier today, 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."
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 by more than doubling the average amount a business can access to hire a worker and 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 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."