29 May 2020

National promises up to $100,000 for businesses hiring more staff

6:23 pm on 29 May 2020

National says if elected, it will give small businesses a $10,000 bonus each time they hire more staff.

National leader Todd Muller at Apata Group Limited in Katikati on 28 May 2020.

National Party leader Todd Muller has announced a scheme promising businesses up to $100,000 each for hiring extra staff. Photo: Matt Hunt

Party leader Todd Muller has just announced a JobStart scheme policy after a tour of furniture fittings company Blum in Auckland.

Muller said the scheme would offer cash payments to businesses for each new hire from November and run for five months.

He predicted it would provide an incentive for up to 50,000 new jobs.

"We are committed to supporting New Zealand businesses, in particular small businesses, to invest and grow," Muller said.

"JobStart will give small business owners greater confidence to hire new people.

"Small business owners who create jobs will be the heroes of this economic crisis, in the way that our nurses, doctors and all five million of us who stayed home were the heroes of the health crisis."

The scheme would be capped at 10 new employees, or $100,000 per business.

Official figures show jobs fell by a record 37,500 last month, as the economy suffered a downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Reserve Bank has warned unemployment could rise as high as 18 percent.

Blum employs more than 40 people in New Zealand and is among businesses hard-hit by shut downs due to the coronavirus.

Managing director Michael Hawkins said business was down by a third, but with the help of the government's wage subsidy, Blum has retained all its staff.

"We want to retain our people, we don't see any real risk there but the worry is we don't know what the future looks like in three to six months time," Hawkins said.

"That's really a big concern, we've already seen a drop-off and that's not going to correct. Hopefully it doesn't get too much worse."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the government had provided immediate support to businesses.

"Our focus for now, as I think most businesses has been, is around keeping people employed, through things like the wage subsidy scheme, moving to support people's income... and creating jobs and creating them right now."

Robertson said he would be prepared to consider a grant for small businesses in months to come.

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