The government’s new Covid Income Relief payment is a welcome step forward. The payments are for 12 weeks from June 8 when the current wage subsidy stops for most employees.
A $490 tax-free payment for those working 30 hours or more a week and $250 for those working 15-29 hours a week.
- It is accessible for anyone who loses tier job between March 1 and 30 October because of Covid-19 impact.
- The amount paid is considerably more generous than the current maximum single employment benefit of $250 net a week for those 25 and older who qualify whatever type of job you lost.
- It is accessible even if your partner has a job and earns up to $2000 a week.
- It is accessible to students who have lost jobs without impacting other student support payments.
- It is not accessible to people on an unemployment benefit if they lost their job before March 1.This maintains the deplorable “deserving” and “undeserving” poor categories that seem to exist in the welfare system. Around 145,000 were receiving a benefit before March 20. 43,500 have applied since then. Most of the second group can apply for the income relief payment but not the pre-existing group. We are being less generous than Australia which double payments for all beneficiaries.
These beneficiaries, half of whom have existing ongoing health issues, have any income above $80 a week taken off them at the rate of 70 cents in the dollar. The denial of benefits to those who have partners earning a modest income also abates at a rate of 70 cents in the dollar over $80 a week. These policies are simply punitive and encourage the break up of partnerships, and discourage the desire to work.
This is the time to eliminate this punitive system.
- An important group to have missed out on support are the migrant workers who have proved themselves so essential to the functioning of New Zealand society. Many are now in a desperate position because they have lost jobs and can’t get home. They also need access to a benefit for at least 12 weeks.
A significant number of these are “defacto” New Zealanders because they have been working here for a decade or more and have raised a family entirely in New Zealand. They should have a speeded-up process of residency granted to allow them to stay permanently.