Covid 19 - Financial Support Available
Work and Income, banks and many other organisations may be busier than usual but their staff will be well briefed on a range of existing or new options available to assist.
General advice can also be found at covid19.govt.nz or by calling 0800 779 997 (8am-1am, 7 days a week) or 0800 22 66 57 (9am-5pm, Monday – Friday).
Our no interest loans have been repurposed to support people who are financially impacted by Covid-19. We may be able to provide a loan for urgent financial relief such as bills and debts. Check out our Good Loans page to find contact details for your nearest community loan worker.
Money Talks is a free budgeting and financial mentoring service – free phone 0800 345 123 or website at moneytalks.org.nz (including support via online chat).
Wage subsidies are available to employers whose businesses have been affected by the virus. While they are extremely broad, they do still require employers to meet certain requirements. Many businesses will still need to make redundancies and reduce hours, and this has already begun – these people will need to access Jobseeker Support from Work and Income.
Employers who are receiving subsidies must pass on to their employees the entire subsidy OR their usual wage, whichever is LOWER. For full-time workers (20+ hours per week) the subsidy is $585.80 and for part-time workers (under 20 hours per week) it is $350. More information about the subsidies can be found on the Work and Income wage subsidy page.
It is important to note that this is not a benefit, and your employer may require you to work some or all of these hours. There are some examples of how that may work on the Employment New Zealand page.
Employees can’t be forced to take leave during this period, however employers can require employees to take annual leave in some instances. This information can be found here.
This useful Stuff article features a Q and A with employment specialists about the new wage subsidies. Community Law has produced a detailed flow diagram to answer your questions about what you should be being paid.
You can now search the names of companies that have received the wage subsidy on the MSD website. If you are concerned that you are not being paid correctly you are asked to check with your employer in the first instance, and then make a complaint to Employment New Zealand.
The Council of Trade Unions has also created an online tool for people to register their employment issue.
Work and Income has removed the standdown period for people who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19 and need to access Jobseeker Support. New benefit rates as of 1 April can be found here. For existing clients this will be paid automatically and there is no need to contact Work and Income.
Work and Income may be able to provide:
- one off hardship assistance like food grants (note: this type of assistance may be available while a person is going through the process of applying for a benefit)
- ongoing weekly income for those with very little or no paid work (like Emergency Benefit, Jobseeker Support or Sole Parent Support benefits)
Work and Income is lifting the limit on all food grants by $400 to enable people to buy food urgently. Information about food grants can be found here.
Many food banks are delivering groceries to make sure people are able to still access food banks while in isolation. The Civil Defence website has contact details for people who need food urgently.
The Salvation Army Food Bank are delivering to people in need and can be called on 0800 53 00 00
Support for foreign nationals is available through the New Zealand Red Cross. Information about ‘Visitor care manaaki manuhiri’ can be found here.
If you are behind on rent and concerned about being evicted you maybe able to access Rent Arrears Assistance from Work and Income, even if you are not receiving a benefit.
‘Staying Connected’ advice and information about phones and internet services has been put together by the Commerce Commission and can be found here.
Vodafone – Vodafone has announced the first part of the Covid-19 Care Plan includes;
- Broadband data certainty. The removal of data caps from data-capped Broadband plans for consumers and small to medium sized businesses until at least the end of June 2020
- Mobile data certainty. Eligible Consumer Pay Monthly mobile customers with data-caps to be actively encouraged towards Endless Data plans (which also include endless texts and minutes to AU and NZ numbers)
- No Covid-19 related disconnections or late fees. Temporary measures to protect customers in financial hardship from Covid-19 over at least the next six months.
Spark – will help customers stay connected as they transition to new ways of working, learning and connecting through the initiatives below:
- Removing overage charges for customers who are on data-capped broadband plans, so they won’t have to worry about paying extra to stay connected. This applies to both small and medium business and consumer customers;
- For the next 60 days Spark will waive late payment fees and will not terminate service for customers experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. If our customers are experiencing hardship, they should call 128 to discuss their individual circumstances and available options.
These measures will be introduced on Monday 23 March 2020 for an initial 60-day period, to ensure Spark customers stay connected. READ MORE
Skinny Jump – Families on limited incomes may qualify for Skinny Jump – $5 for 30GB data, and a free modem. More information can be found here
The Government has provided specific funding to Māori to support community outreach, and for a Māori Health and Whānau Ora response through Māori health services and Whānau Ora – Whānau may wish to speak to their local Whānau Ora provider.
The Commerce Commission has produced a ‘Credit Q & A for borrowers’ to answer all your questions if you are having difficulting repaying your loans.
Tom Hartmann from the Commission for Financial Capability has answered people’s questions about the impact of Covid-19 on people’s Kiwisaver accounts.
The IRD may be able to offer advice for those struggling with student loan payments, child support payments, and income tax payments. You can find the IRD Covid-19 Individuals and families information here.
Things to think about
- Has your income or have your expenses changed (reduced or increased) ?
- Is your reduced income still enough to meet your essential costs if you budget carefully?
- Have you talked to your bank and/or your creditors about your situation and how you can manage your payments?
- Do you need extra help to meet your essential costs?
- Do you need to contact Work & Income to ask about (and apply for) the help they may be able to give you?