Covid 19 coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern on expanding Flexi-wage scheme

The Government is expanding the Flexi-wage scheme, which is designed to help Kiwis who lost their jobs during Covid to start new careers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni are announcing an expansion of the subsidy in Auckland.

The scheme is designed to help businesses take on new workers, including Kiwis looking to re-enter the workforce after losing their jobs due to Covid.

That support can include training and mentoring and a contribution towards wages.

Businesses can now receive an average of $7500 per employee, although this amount will depend on individual circumstances.

The Flexi Wage payments, including GST will be:

• $276 a week, totalling $6624 over the 24 weeks of the contract

• $276 a week, totalling $9936 over the 36 weeks of the contract

The expansion includes ring-fencing $30 million for a “self-employment component” which covers training and mentoring for those out of work wishing to start their own business.

The Flexi Wage self-employment will include:

• $600 a week over 28 weeks, totalling $16,800 (pro-rated for those pursuing self-employment part-time)

•increased funding support through a Business, Training and Advice Grant, up to $5000.

People moving into self-employment may also be able to access up to $10,000 to help with business start-up costs through the existing Self-Employment Start-Up payment.

The Flexi Wage expansion will take effect from February 15.

Ardern said the expansion would significantly increase the average amount a business can access to hire a worker.

“Flexi-wage is an important plank of our economic recovery plan,” Ardern said.

“The expansion of it is expected to help thousands more New Zealanders into employment.”

Labour campaigned on the promise to have an expanded subsidy scheme in place by Christmas.

Ardern promised the package would employ up to 40,000 New Zealanders whose jobs were affected by Covid-19.

She said it was one of her top priorities.

However, the scheme was still not in place by the end of last month, drawing criticism from the Opposition.

National’s social development spokesperson Louise Upston said she was “just not sure why the Government have waited and failed to deliver on getting people into work”.

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