New Zealand is heading into unchartered territory with the country shifting to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and going into lockdown at 11:59pm tonight.
The staff at Development West Coast, like many others, are adjusting to the new normal of working remotely. Most of our team have been reassigned to assist West Coast businesses deal with the current economic impacts of COVID-19, and to prepare for the recovery stage – to get our economy back on its feet once the shutdown ends.
After spending hours every day talking with local businesses, the consistent message coming through is that, while as resilient as ever, many in our business community are hurting financially and are concerned about the long-term impact this situation may have for them.
Given all this uncertainty, it is encouraging to see the Government willing to pump money into the economy with the announcement of some bold relief packages.
The recently expanded $9.3b Wage Subsidy scheme provides much-needed breathing space for some businesses, and work security for many of our 16,263 strong workforce. If your business hasn’t already, look into applying for these wage subsidies.
On the Coast we have around 50 businesses with over 21 employees who previously weren’t eligible for wage subsidies for all of their staff. The recent changes mean the subsidies should now cover their entire workforce.
With many businesses out of operation for at least four weeks, cash flow issues are one of the key concerns we are hearing. Yesterday’s announcement that the Government, in partnership with retail banks, will be implementing a $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses provides some reassurance here.
This scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress for our business community and hopefully help protect further jobs during this unprecedented time.
The package is proposed to include a six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19.
According to Finance Minister Grant Robertson, the scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to businesses with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates.
The banks will be announcing the finer details about what support they can offer over the coming days.
While these measures don’t take away all the pain, they do provide some reassurance and will help see some of our businesses through this crisis.
If your business is being impacted by COVID-19, remember there are a number of people, organisations and resources you can tap into for support. If you need any business assistance during these challenging times, don’t hesitate to contact the team at DWC – we are here to help.