Newshub-Reid Research poll: Income insurance scheme not popular with Kiwis, but Government committed to it

The Government's plan to create a scheme to support Kiwis who lose their jobs is proving unpopular with our latest poll showing only a third of New Zealanders support it. 

But the Finance Minister is determined to get his plan through whether people like it or not.

Can you afford $16.50 a week for income insurance? That's how much the average worker would pay in tax for the Government's fledgling job loss scheme.

"It's like ACC - it provides a backstop for all of us if the worst happens," said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The backstop: if you lose your job because of redundancy or disability you won't need to rush to find a new one, use up your savings or go on a benefit because the income insurance scheme will pay you up to 80 percent of your old wages for up to six months.

"We're one of only two countries in the OECD which won't have an income insurance scheme," Robertson said. "I think it's time we did."

In our latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, we put the policy to voters and asked whether they'd support it. About 50 percent don't, 33 percent do, and 17 percent don't know.

But Robertson said it's "something we're committed to". 

The scheme was developed by the tripartite of Government, unions and BusinessNZ.

BusinessNZ was originally on board when it just covered redundancy, but is backing out because there are no tax cuts to make it cost-neutral.

It's now even more expensive because it's been expanded to include sickness and disability cover.

"We supported it being redundancy only and it's grown a lot bigger than that," said BusinessNZ's Catherine Beard

But Council of Trade Unions economist Craig Renney said there's a need for it. 

"If you develop cancer you won't get any support from ACC but if you get into an accident you will get support from ACC. All this is doing is balancing the playing field."

It's a playing field the Finance Minister is determined to get an income insurance win on.