Grant Robertson says there will be 'zero tolerance' for businesses abusing the wage subsidy

The Finance Minister has issued a warning for any businesses abusing the wage subsidy scheme, saying they won't get away with it. 

In a press conference on Friday Grant Robertson announced the wage subsidy has paid out a whopping 10.97 billion to more than 1.6 million employees across New Zealand.

While the subsidy has been a lifeline for thousands of businesses, Robertson admitted some are not using it honourably.

"The vast majority of New Zealand businesses are doing the right thing and they have used the wage subsidy to cover their employees' wages and stay connected to their employees so they are in a position to open again," he said.

However, thousands are not. More than 3000 refunds of the wage subsidy have been made, comprising a total of 83.4 million returned - and Robertson said there could be more where that comes from.

"We have zero tolerance for anyone who has knowingly provided false or misleading information and these people are being held to account."

His warning follows a backtrack by the Government on publishing the data from the Ministry of Social Development's (MSD) audit of the subsidy scheme.

MSD had previously refused to provide up to date audit numbers and told RNZ the figures would be available at the end of June.

The decision was criticised by National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith who said he was "shocked" the audit was not being released.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni told RNZ audits will now be published weekly.