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Auckland businesses beg government for aid as lockdown continues

After two weeks of Level 4 lockdown, Auckland city centre businesses have lost more than $45 million according to figures from the Heart of the City. 

Viv Beck, CEO of the business association, says the sum underlines the case for the government to provide more financial relief for businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

Faced with no trading for a fortnight – and likely for another two, at least, some businesses will struggle to hang on much longer, she said. 

“With an average loss of more than $35,000 per business and the likelihood that a shift down to other Levels won’t offer much relief for many, additional support is urgent.”

Heart of the City has offered support to the call by the Auckland Business Chamber, and the thousands of businesses who have signed their petition requesting weekly Resurgence Support Payment. 

“On top of this big loss of revenue, they still have costs to pay. This won’t fully cover their costs but it means that there is a contribution towards both their staffing costs and their operating costs.

“All stops must be pulled out to help businesses survive what is still a very uncertain period ahead.”

Beck also called for a review of rules covering businesses operating online, to provide a level playing field.

“Businesses that can trade safely online should be able to operate. Sympathy for our businesses is not enough, they need tangible support.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett argues that businesses should be offered support on a similar basis to that provided to employees. 

“Currently, employees are receiving the wage subsidy from government and if a business claims the wage subsidy for employees it means they should pay the employees 80 per cent of their wage. For businesses, this means the employers are topping up the government subsidy at a time where they have no revenue coming in,” he says, introducing its online petition for the Resurgence Support Payment. 

“On top of this cost business has its weekly overheads of rent, rates, subscriptions, hire purchases and a range of other costs. The government does offer a one-off resurgence payment, however, if you look at this, it’s equivalent to about 60 per cent of one week’s overheads. As the government extends the lockdown employers need the same recognition as employees.”

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