Weekly Digest – 24 November 2021

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Auckland Lockdown to End

Starting early December, bars, restaurants, and gyms can reopen in Auckland, but customers must be able to show proof of double-dose vaccination.

This announcement signals a new phase in the country’s response to the pandemic, in which people will need to be fully vaccinated to be able to participate in anything. New Zealand would move into a new pandemic “traffic light” system based around the use of vaccine passports from late 2 December, making an end to the lockdowns that the government used to completely eliminate the virus outbreaks.

New Zealand to Reopen to Fully Vaccinated Travelers

From 17 January 2022, fully vaccinated Kiwis can travel from Australia to New Zealand without going through MIQ and instead go through seven days of home isolation. Meanwhile, from 14 February 2022, citizens can fly in from most other countries, except those considered very high risk and also go through the home isolation requirement.

From 30 April, the country is set to open back up for foreign nationals and international visitors in stages.

All travellers will require a negative test, proof of vaccination and declaration they haven’t been in very high-risk countries. After they arrive, they will also be required to undergo regular testing.

New Zealand Interest Rate Hike

New Zealand’s central bank has lifted interest rates by 25 basis points to 0.75%, with many forecasters expecting borrowing costs to surge to at least 2% by next year and possibly higher.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s forecasts signalled a more aggressive tightening cycle, hitting 2.5% by 2023 and going higher by December 2024. The central bank’s governor, Adrian Orr, warned that homeowners in the country’s red-hot housing market had to prepare for tougher times ahead.

New Tool for Businesses

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood today announced a new tool to help businesses assess whether they should be requiring workers to be vaccinated. This assessment tool will be available from mid-December.

When the new traffic light system comes into place from 3 December, it will be a requirement for vaccine passes to be shown for those businesses that opt into it. The tool provides a clear legal framework to help businesses and other employers to decide about vaccinations in the workplace.

Businesses that opt in should use the passes, and those which fail to enforce them will face penalties from $300 to $12,000 for a company, or $15,000 for a court-imposed fine for a company.

Digital Hesitancy Holding Back NZ Businesses

Small businesses experience higher revenue and productivity when they readily adopt new technology, according to new research conducted by Xero. However, technological hesitance has been found to hold back small businesses from achieving success.

The results found those that readily adopt new technology enjoyed, on average, 120% higher revenue and 106% higher productivity. If you need help in integrating innovative tools that can streamline your processes and improve your business, get in touch with us today!

How to Get ‘My Vaccine Pass’

The government has launched its vaccine pass or certificates, which allows New Zealanders to download proof that they are fully vaccinated.

The “My Vaccine Pass” will take the form of a QR code that can be shown digitally or on printed paper, allowing venues to check whether a person has been vaccinated or not.

Once you are fully vaccinated, you can access My Covid Record, and make a My Health Account via this website. You will need an email address, password, and proof of identity to create an account.

For those without a smartphone or access to a computer, you may call 0800 222 478 to request a My Vaccine Pass.

Support Package for 346,000 Families

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a range of measures last week that will boost incomes for 346,000 families by an average of $20 per week and lift an additional 6,000 children out of poverty.

The support measures for low-income households include increasing a family tax credit by almost $15 per week for the eldest child, and $13 per week for subsequent children.

Events Transition Support Scheme Launched

The Events Transition Support Scheme has been opened from this week which will cover 90% of unrecoverable costs for major events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. It will apply to live, in-person paid events with over 5,000 attendees from 17 December until 3 April 2022.

Support available to you

Work and Income has a Find COVID-19 Support tool to help you find the support options you’re eligible for.

If your business has to close temporarily or reduce opening hours

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

The Wage Subsidy August 2021 is available to eligible businesses in New Zealand affected by the continuation of Alert Levels 3 and 4 from 17 August 2021.

Businesses and self-employed people must meet the decline in revenue tests to be eligible to receive the wage subsidy.

The wage subsidy is paid in a 2 week lump sum. You can get:

  • $600 per week for each full-time employee
  • $359 per week for each part-time worker retained.

As an employer you must pass on the full wage subsidy to your employee. If the wage subsidy is more than your employee’s pay, you can continue to pay them at their normal rate.

Find out more about the Leave Support Scheme on the Work and Income website.

COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment

The COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment helps cover wages and fixed costs for businesses who have been directly affected when there is an increase to Alert Level 2 or higher for a week or more.

To be eligible, your business must have experienced at least a 30% drop in revenue or a 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a 7-day period, due to the increase in Alert Levels.

You can receive $1,500 per business plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), up to 50 FTE. If you’re a sole trader, you can receive a payment of up to $1,900.

Applications for the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment are open. You need to apply through Inland Revenue. Businesses anywhere in New Zealand can apply if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Find out more information about the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment and how to apply here.

If your business has reduced revenue

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

If you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. This is a one-off 5 year loan where you can borrow a maximum of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.

  • When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
  • Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year.
  • Applications are open until 31 December 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within 2 years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of 5 years.

IRD tax assistance

If you’re finding it hard to meet your tax obligations, Inland Revenue may be able to help. Get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Insolvency relief

The COVID-19 Business Debt Hibernation scheme allows businesses to get a month’s protection while they talk to their creditors.

If an employee needs to self isolate

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

If an employee cannot work from home while self-isolating, you may be able to apply for financial support so they can continue to get paid.

The Leave Support Scheme is paid as a 2 week lump sum at the rate of:

  • $600 a week for full-time employees
  • $359 a week for part-time employees

You cannot get the Wage Subsidy August 2021, Leave Support Scheme and Short-Term Absence Payment for the same employee at the same time.

If an employee is awaiting the result of a COVID-19 rest

COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

The Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay employees who cannot work from home while they wait at home for a COVID-19 test result. This is a one-off payment of $350. You can find the details here.

Kiwi Business Boost Tool

The Government has funded specialist consultancy support services to provide advice to businesses who need it. You can use the Kiwi Business Boost Tool to find out what services are available in your region.

The Treasury website’s COVID-19 Economic Response Measures can also provide more information on the range of support available to businesses.

Training Incentive Allowance

The Training Incentive Allowance can help with tuition fees, books, childcare, equipment, transport and any additional caring costs while studying. It’s available for courses at levels 1-7 of the NZ Qualifications Framework. Visit the Work and Income website to find out who’s eligible, how much you can get and who can apply.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.