As the country goes into lockdown, the team at DWC continues to operate remotely and have good systems in place to manage inquiries from our business contacts.

There are a number of resources available for Coast businesses to tap into for support during this unprecedented time. If you haven’t looked into the Government’s Employer Wage Subsidy package, do so. This is a great resource that can help relieve immediate cashflow issues and protect employment on the Coast.

Our staff have been busy talking local businesses through the application process, and there have been some questions arising regarding eligibility for these schemes. We are working closely with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), and other Government agencies, and have been passing on your questions for greater clarification.

MSD, while under extreme pressure, are doing a great job. As they iron out the kinks in the system, they have been providing greater clarification on many of the issues being raised. If you have any questions or queries about the Wage Subsidy scheme get in touch with DWC and we’ll do our best to help you.

In conjunction with MSD and other regional development agencies, a regional employment hub dubbed a “war room” is currently being set up that will be a resource for both businesses and affected workers.

The hub will facilitate getting available workers into much-needed employment once the lockdown is removed. The details of this will be made available to all our business contacts shortly.

We have also had a number of businesses and private individuals contact us with the offer of accommodation for those struggling to self-isolate. It’s great to see this kind of community spirit. This information has been passed on to local civil defence who are liaising with local police to ensure those in need are taken care of.

It is heartening to see our community uniting and staying strong during this unprecedented time.

If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at DWC. We are here to help you. This will also enable us to better understand the needs of our business community, so we can provide Government agencies with regular updates to ensure they can continue developing responses that are appropriate to our changing landscape.

Media Release: 26 March 2020

 

Information for businesses

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.

This will mean all ‘non-essential’ businesses must close for the next four weeks – at a minimum. To see the current list of essential businesses that are allowed to remain open visit www.covid-19.govt.nz, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for clarification about your specific business.

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.

 

Information for businesses

Media Release: 25 March 2020

Things are changing by the hour. The country is moving into unprecedented territory in response to COVID-19.

New Zealand now has 102 confirmed cases. While there are no confirmed cases on the Coast yet, many of our businesses have already been hit hard financially. Things are only going to become more difficult with new restrictions and the cancellation of the TranzAlpine service and closure of DOC huts.

The Government has announced a four-stage alert system for Covid-19, with New Zealand moving up to alert level 3 (Restrict) and will be moving to alert level 4 (Eleminate) in the next 48 hours..

This means COVID-19 is at a heightened risk and the disease is not contained. Range of measures include:

  • Travel in areas with clusters or community transmission limited
    Affected educational facilities closed
    Mass gatherings cancelled
    Public venues closed (e.g. libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks)
    Alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses should close
    Non face-to-face primary care consultations
    Non acute (elective) services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff reprioritised

Looking at what is unfolding across the world, these are prudent steps that are necessary to help limit the spread. To reduce our person-to-person contact, DWC will be closing its Greymouth office from today.

Our team will be working remotely and are fully committed to supporting our clients and business community through this challenging period. We remain only a phone call, video call or email away.

To help our business clients through this time we are reducing our commercial finance interest rates by 1% for those on a fixed rate. We are also getting in contact with all our commercial finance clients to assess their situation and offer support where it’s needed.

If your business is being impacted by COVID-19, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you.

It’s also important you talk to your bank, landlord, suppliers and accountant to get in front of cashflow issues early. And contact your insurance provider to see if you are eligible to receive any business interruption insurance.

After taking these steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, you will be eligible to apply for COVID-19 wage subsidies or leave payments through Work and Income.

We are hearing from local businesses that the application process has been relatively simple, with some already receiving payment.

However, there are some questions and grey areas that are coming up. Let us know if you experience any hurdles while applying. We are advocating for Coast businesses and working closely with the Ministry of Social Development to get greater clarification on any issues that arise.

At the end of the day, these support packages are there to help impacted businesses. Read the criteria and declaration information carefully, answer the form genuinely, and remember there are many people and organisations here to help.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has increased the Government Support scheme from $5.1b to $9.3b to provide wider support for businesses who were not adequately covered in the  support package.

In order to protect confidence in our banking system the Reserve Bank have announced a program to purchase $30B of NZ Government Bonds over the next year, a process known as quantitative easing. This follows similar moves around the world by other central banks. ANZ Bank have commented that the size of this program exceeded expectations and will go a long way in ensuring confidence in our banking system is retained and ensuring that financial markets retain their liquidity.

 

Information for businesses

Media Release: 23 March 2020

We are all scrambling to keep up with the evolving COVID-19 developments and the ramifications they will have for our businesses.

NZ is now at Alert Level 3 (Restrict) and will be shifting to Alert Level 4 (Eliminate) at midnight on Wednesday. Now that community transmission has been confirmed, the country will be in lockdown to contain the spread. Alert Level 4 is expected to continue for a minimum of four weeks at this stage.

Under Alert Level 4 all non-essential businesses must close. This includes bars, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds.

Essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand. This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.

Visit COVID-19.govt.nz for the list of essential businesses (Note: this list will evolve over time).

If you haven’t already talked to your bank, we encourage you to open lines of communication with your bank and have a plan in place.

To help our business clients through this time we are reducing our commercial finance interest rates by 1% for those on a fixed rate. We are also getting in contact with all our commercial finance clients over the next few days to assess their situation and see what assistance we can provide.

Yesterday the Government also announced they will be increasing the reach of the employer subsidy package – making many more businesses eligible. The overall employer subsidy package has been raised from $5.1b to $9.3b. If you haven’t applied for this yet, we encourage you to look into it, as the shift in alert levels will likely impact all West Coast businesses.

Today further announcements were made regarding a mortgage holiday scheme offered by retail banks. There will be a "six-month mortgage repayment holiday to homeowners whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19". The exact criteria will be announced by the banks in the coming days.

The Government and the banks will also implement a $6.25b Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy.

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.

The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms 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.

We are waiting to hear further details about these new developments but will keep you updated.

DWC’s physical office may now be closed, but our staff are working remotely and are only a phone call or email away. If you need any assistance don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 768 0140 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Release: 24 March 2020

Development West Coast (DWC) recommends local businesses affected by the wider impact of COVID-19 to tap into the various forms of support available.

“We are hearing loud and clear from our business community about the financial and emotional impact COVID-19 is having on their businesses,” says DWC chief executive Heath Milne.

“Many are already struggling with cashflow issues and the challenge of paying staff.”

“It’s important you talk to your bank, landlord, insurance provider and suppliers to see what options are available to get in front of cash flow issues early before they worsen. Another option is financial support available from the Government.”

The Government’s recent $12.1b COVID-19 relief package includes $5.1b set aside for a wage subsidy scheme.

“We encourage businesses who have been impacted to approach DWC for any assistance or clarification on how to tap into this support.

“The Government’s wage subsidy package will give businesses much needed breathing space and the ability to retain staff as the broader financial impact of the virus is felt.”

“The scheme also covers the self-employed, which is very important as 18.4% of our workers are self-employed,” says Mr Milne.

The wage subsidies are available for business in all sectors and regions that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any SINGLE month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue).

“Many local businesses experienced significant revenue disruptions in 2019 due to abnormal events - like the Waiho Bridge washout. We are in conversation with the Ministry of Social Development to ensure those who experienced these revenue anomalies in 2019 won’t be adversely affected when comparing months while applying for wage subsidies.

“Officials have acknowledged these issues and have reassured us that the genuine intent of the application is what is important. We await further clarification around this.”

If eligible for wage subsidies, employers would be paid $585.80 per week for full-time staff and $350 for part-time. Payments are capped at $150,000 per business. They will be paid in a lump sum. The support will be available for 12 weeks.

Businesses must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. These steps could include activating their business continuity plan and seeking advice and support from DWC as the West Coast’s Regional Business Partner or other professional service providers such as banks, accountants and insurance providers.

The businesses must also make their best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.

“If you need any assistance applying for the wage subsidy scheme, DWC is here to help you,” says Mr Milne.

Apply online for the wage subsidy: www.workandincome.govt.nz

Contact DWC for any assistance or advice: 0800 768 0140 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Release: 19 March 2020

Information for businesses