COVID-19: Government support payments for businesses doubled to help them through lockdown

The Government is doubling the amount of money eligible businesses can claim as Auckland's lockdown stretches beyond two months. 

The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is currently paid every three weeks to businesses that experience a 30 percent drop in revenue over a seven-day period at increased alert levels. 

The eligible businesses get a base payment of $1500, plus $400 for each full-time employee. The maximum is 50 employees, or $21,500. 

From November 12, payments will be fortnightly, and instead of a base payment of $1500, it will be $3000. For each full-time employee, businesses will get $800, up from $400. This will make the maximum fortnightly payment $43,000.

"In effect this means the RSP will be a weekly rather than three weekly payment as it is now, but for ease of application and administration it will be available in fortnightly instalments," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Friday. 

"We are not changing any settings at this time so payments can be made without disruption."

The enhanced RSP will be available until Auckland moves into the new COVID Protection Framework, Robertson said, and the wage subsidy will continue to be available on the current criteria while areas of the country are still in alert level 3.

The Resurgence Support Payment is designed to help businesses pay for rent and other bills. Pressure has been mounting on Robertson to provide more financial support, with groups like Retail NZ and Hospitality fearing businesses going broke with no revenue coming in. 

The Government has agreed on a $60 million package for business advice, and mental health support will be made available to help Auckland businesses through the transition period.

Businesses will be able to apply for up to $3000 worth of advice and planning support, and then receive up to $4000 to implement that advice.

The Government has also agreed in principle that there will be a transition payment made available to support businesses when they move into the new framework. 

"Final details of the support to be provided under the new framework will be agreed in November," Robertson said. 

"My expectation is that because businesses will be able to operate at all levels of the framework, the wage subsidy and the RSP will be reworked to a new targeted payment at the Red level of the new framework."

Under Red, hospitality venues will be able to open with up to 100 people who are fully vaccinated, and gatherings of up to 100 fully vaccinated people will be allowed for events such as weddings and funerals.

Events could go ahead with up to 100 vaccinated people, gyms could open with up to 100 vaccinated people, and education - schools and universities - could reopen. 

If a business chooses not to use vaccine certificates, only contactless hospitality would be allowed, and only 10 unvaccinated people could gather for the likes of weddings and funerals. 

Close contact businesses such as gyms would not be allowed to open without vaccine certificates, and tertiary education could only go ahead online, if they choose not to use vaccine certificates.

To date, the Government has paid about $4.8 billion in support since this Delta outbreak began in August. That amount exceeds the new operating spending the Government would have for a whole year for the whole country in most Budgets.