New payment for New Zealanders who lose their job due to COVID-19
25 May 2020
The following has been taken from the Government’s COVID-19 website:
The COVID-19 Income Relief Payment will help soften the shock and minimise disruption from sudden unemployment, giving people time to look for other work or retrain.
The payment will be available for 12 weeks from 8 June for anyone who has lost their job due to the impact of COVID-19 since March 1. It will pay $490 a week to those who lost full-time work and $250 for part-time. The payment will not be taxed.
Licenses, WoFs and regos extended under lockdown
Has your licence, warrant of fitness or car registration expired? Don’t stress!
All driver licences, WoFs, CoFs, and some vehicle certifications, that expired on or after 1 January 2020 will be valid for up to six months from 10 April 2020.
Key things you need to know:
- If you’re driving to get essential goods or services or you are an essential worker, you won’t get fined for having an expired licence, WoF or rego during the lockdown Level 4 alert.
- Any licence suspensions and disqualifications will continue to apply.
- It’s up to you to keep your vehicle safe - so check your tyres, windscreen, wipers, mirrors, and indicators, look for rust, and test your lights.
Found something that urgently needs fixing, like a tyre puncture or damaged windscreen? You can still get these fixed.
Reduce your power bill - 10 tips for saving power
There are lots of simple things we can do at home to save on power so we can use that power where it counts most—like to keep warm.
1. Review your power plan
Get in touch with your power company and ask about your plan. There might be discounts available or a payment term that better suits your needs—like paying the same set amount each month.
You can also compare your plan to others using Powerswitch (powerswitch.org.nz).
2. Switch off unused appliances
Turn off your appliances at the wall when you’re not using them to save $100 a year.
3. Dry your clothes outside
Each dryer load costs $1, so dry your clothes outside where you can.
If outside isn’t an option, stick with the dryer—drying clothes inside can make your home damp, which could make you sick.
4. Boil only as much water as needed
You can save $30 a year by halving how much water you boil in the kettle.
5. Turn off the second fridge
Running a second fridge can cost over $200 a year. While they might be handy, second fridges are usually old inefficient units—so turn it off if you don’t absolutely need it.
6. Set your heater to 18-21°C
That’s the best range for keeping warm, healthy, and being energy efficient. If your home has a heat pump, use it—it’s 3 times more efficient than an electric heater (electric heaters are okay for small rooms).
The Winter Energy Payment has doubled in 2020. If you’re eligible for it you’ll have more to spend on heating.
7. Only heat rooms you’re in
Don’t heat parts of the home you’re not regularly using. Shut doors between rooms to keep the heat in.
8. Block gaps in doors and windows
You can make a DIY draught stopper by stuffing a rugby sock with newspaper, or rolling up a towel.
Set it snugly against gaps at the bottom of doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping.
9. Wash clothes with cold water
Using cold water when washing clothes can save $80 a year.
Only use hot water for stubborn stains.
10. Take shorter showers
A family of four can save $450 a year reducing their daily showers by 5 minutes.
Slowing the shower flow by not fully opening the tap can also help you save, reducing how much water is used.
The following has been taken from the Covid-19 Government website.
Help with money
If you’ve lost your job or had your hours reduced you may be able to get a benefit or some other financial help from Work and Income.
Work and Income can help with urgent costs like:
- accommodation costs (rent, mortgage, board, emergency housing)
- repairs or replacing appliances
- emergency dental treatment
- emergency medical treatment
- water tank refill.
Work and Income call centres are experiencing very high demand at the moment, so we recommend you check their website first.
Call Work and Income on 0800 559 009.
Contact your bank
If you are worried about your ability to finance existing loans as a result of COVID-19 you should contact your bank or finance company as soon as you can.
Banks and other lenders will work with customers who are struggling financially. Borrowers have a legal right to ask for changes to their repayments. A range of options are available to help. See the list of banks below with specific webpages about COVID-19:
Sorted and MoneyTalks
The government-funded services Sorted and MoneyTalks can help with budgeting or other financial guidance.
Some electricity companies are halting disconnections and late payment penalties temporarily during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Contact your electricity supplier to find out more.
MSD winter subsidies have been doubled and brought forward.
The Electricity Authority has released COVID-19 advice for customers on their website.
Skinny Jump is a low-cost prepaid broadband service for eligible Kiwi homes. Get 30GB of NZ’s finest broadband for just $5.
Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme
If the business where you work is laying people off or reducing your hours because of COVID-19 it may qualify for the wage subsidy to help it keep going. If you’re an employer, contractor, sole trader or are self-employed you may also qualify.
The subsidy is a lump sum payment for the employer to pass on to employees. It covers 12 weeks per employee and pays $585.80 per week full-time workers and $350.00 per week for part-time workers.
Wage Subsidy employer search
You can see which companies have received payments under the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme on the Work and Income website.
You can search for:
- the company name as registered with Inland Revenue
- the number of employers for whom payment has been made
- the amount paid.
This information has been published to ensure payments under the Wage Subsidy Scheme are transparent and that the scheme is accountable to the public.
Updates to the Wage Subsidy Scheme
- 6 April 2020: Search function now available to find employers who have received payments under the Wage Subsidy scheme
- 27 March 2020: Government modified scheme to better support workers not able to work during Level 4
- 24 March 2020: the Government announced the removal of the $150,000 cap
Essential Workers Leave Payment Scheme
If the business you work for needs help to pay essential workers who need to take leave because of COVID-19 Public Health guidance it could be eligible for the Essential Workers Leave Payment Scheme. This scheme subsidises eligible businesses, and allows them to pay workers who need to take leave because Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home, and they can’t work from home.
The scheme offers the same rates as the Wage Subsidy Scheme of $585.80 per week full-time workers and $350.00 per week for part-time workers.
If you’ve lost your job or you run a business and are faced with laying off your employees, there may be support options available to you. Work and Income offer a range of information and support to employees who are made redundant.
Work and Income has also information for employers who are considering redundancies.
Protection for renters and tenants
If you are renting and are struggling to pay your rent, you may be eligible for support to help you stay in your rental property. Help could include a 6-month freeze on residential rent increases and increased protection from having your tenancy ended.
It is important tenants do not face the prospect of homelessness during this challenging time. This will also enable families and individuals to self-isolate, to stay home and maintain physical distancing, and support everyone’s public health.
Mortgage repayment holiday scheme
New Zealand’s retail banks are offering to defer repayments for all residential mortgages for up to 6 months for customers financially affected by COVID-19.
If you get a mortgage repayment deferral from your bank you will not need to make principal and interest payments on your loan for up to 6 months. This package is in addition to what banks are already doing individually to help affected customers.
Key details of this scheme:
It is important to know that interest on these loans will still increase, and deferred interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan.
Banks will assess the suitability for each customer who is asking for a deferral.
Banks will have different approaches to how they manage the process for customers to opt into a mortgage deferral. Those details, including eligibility criteria, will be available on bank websites.
Customers should contact their bank for further details or queries about the scheme.
Support for Māori communities and businesses
Māori communities and businesses can access help tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori in the face of COVID-19. These include:
- a Whānau Māori Community and Mārae package reprioritising $10 million from the Māori Development vote to support community outreach
- A Māori Health and Whānau Ora response with $30 million targeted directly to Māori Health services and an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies
- supporting Māori Businesses and engaging with Māori with $1 million of funding to enable a needs assessment for Māori businesses, and $470,000 to Te Arawhiti to engage and work with iwi on their COVID-19 pandemic response plans.