Businesses warn of wave of redundancies once wage subsidy runs out

Businesses are warning of a wave of redundancies when the wage subsidy runs out in June.

It comes as a new survey finds the economy isn't running as well as the Government says it is under level 3.

Like all tourism-reliant businesses, lockdown's been brutal for Bikes and Beyond.

"We're losing half of the total revenue we used to have," says owner Christian Hoff-Nielsen.

It'd be much worse if sales of e-bikes hadn't shot up but now Hoff-Nielsen's running out of stock and can't source more.

"I'll need help, I'll need a loan," he says. "Because what we're living on right now is reserves, it's bikes that we had in. We have sort of a working capital and that working capital is diminishing every day."

And it's getting harder every day as lockdown drags on.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association's (EMA) noticed more businesses asking for help with redundancies.

"How do companies cope with restructuring, how do they get prepared for potentially reducing their workforce - that's of great concern to us," EMA CEO Brett O'Riley says.

The Government says the economy's running at about 80 percent despite many businesses still being shuttered. 

But a new survey from Forsyth Barr's found that could be generous.

"Our feedback suggests a higher level of activity decline relative to what the Reserve Bank's forecasts were based on," Forsyth Bar head of research Andy Bowley says.

The survey found most businesses need more government help to not have to make people redundant. The top three things asked for are an extension to the wage subsidy, more tax relief, and rent relief.

"They'll be additional key things that'll help businesses think 'maybe I can keep going'," O'Riley says.

The survey also found big businesses are taking action much quicker. They're more likely to cut pay, make redundancies, cut dividends, cut executive pay and are more likely to defer capital expenditure.

Hoff-Nielsen already cancelled a planned expansion to Blenheim.

"There's no real possibility for that right now," he says.

But his cashflow problem is something he can't fix on his own.

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