National unveils JobStart scheme: Businesses would get $10,000 per new full-time hire

Businesses in New Zealand will get $10,000 every time they employ a new full-time worker if the National Party is elected to power in September, it says. 

The scheme, proposed by National leader Todd Muller and finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, would begin on November 1 and run for five months through to March 30 next year. 

Businesses would receive an initial $5000 payment when the hire is made, and the additional $5000 would be handed over after the new worker had been employed for 90 days. 

The payment would also be tax-free and would be managed by IRD. Businesses would need to apply to IRD with evidence they hired a new full-time worker over and above their new workforce. 

National says the money would be handed over within 10 days of the application's approval. 

There is a catch: the scheme will be capped at 10 new employees, or $100,000 per business. National would limit the fund to $500 million, or once 50,000 jobs have been secured. 

Like the Government's wage subsidy scheme, National says businesses would be required to sign a statutory declaration, including the employer's obligations that the job is genuine, permanent and is offered in good faith. 

The Government's wage subsidy scheme has so far paid out around $11 billion to 1.6 million New Zealanders, while almost a billion dollars has been paid out by the Government in interest-free loans to small businesses. 

Muller, who is National's spokesperson for small business, said the proposed JobStart scheme is part of his plan to create jobs and grow the economy as businesses suffer from the economic impact of COVID-19. 

"Small business owners who create jobs will be the heroes of this economic crisis, in the way that our nurses, doctors and all five million of us who stayed home were the heroes of the health crisis."

Goldsmith said businesses need more help because thousands of them were starved of revenue during the lockdown and many are still struggling under alert level 2 restrictions.

"They are desperate for cash flow and this payment could alleviate some of the pressure they're facing while also supporting growth."

Job numbers plummeted in New Zealand during April by 37,500, Stats NZ's latest figures show, as businesses struggled with the lockdown and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. 

National released a policy earlier this month under former leader Simon Bridges to help businesses struggling because of COVID-19.

Businesses that could demonstrate a revenue drop of more than 50 percent across two consecutive months due to COVID-19 would be eligible for GST cash refunds worth up to $100,000. 

He said National would offer the GST cash refunds to small businesses most affected by the COVID-19 economic fallout, and the refunds would be based on the GST they paid in the six months to January 1 this year.