26 Feb 2023

Flood recovery: $25m in initial grants to be locally led - Robertson

2:22 pm on 26 February 2023
Grant Robertson

Grant Robertson Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Businesses in cyclone-affected regions will be able to claim up to $40,000 to help get back on their feet, with the government providing $25 million in grants for immediate costs, says the Finance Minister.

Grant Robertson - who is also Cyclone Recovery Minister - and Regional Development Minister and East Coast MP Kiri Allan have briefed the media in Gisborne after spending the morning looking at damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Watch their media briefing here:

Robertson confirmed that the $25 million announced today - part of the initial $50 million emergency package agreed by Cabinet earlier this week - would be used to help businesses meet immediate costs, further assist with clean-up and boost business support and advice services.

He said the initial grants - up to a maximum of $40,000 per business - would be distributed by local organisations in affected regions.

"Our priority is to get this initial emergency support out as quickly as possible. Those who are on the ground in communities know best how to do that. The government has established agreements with local delivery partners to make it happen," Robertson said.

"The particular target there is small and medium enterprises cash flow - so this is up to $40,000 for a business to be able to deal with the needs that they've immediately got."

The government wanted that money to be delivered quickly and in line with local needs, he said.

"Therefore what we've done is given that money to local distribution agencies, so in the case of this region here it's Trust Tairāwhiti, that means they can quickly make a decision using the right criteria to get that money out the door straight away."

The government would also be working with larger businesses and hoped to be able to make some announcements regarding larger and medium businesses in the next few weeks, Robertson said.

Robertson today acknowledged the extraordinary impact weather events had had on Tairāwhiti in recent times, with Cyclone Gabrielle only the latest one.

"The messages have been very, very consistent - firstly that we must have a locally and regionally led response," Robertson said.

He said consistent infrastructure issues, roads, water, telecommunications and connectivity were also issues.

"We need to be able to to things in the medium term to connect things back up, but also need to take longer term decisions about long term resilience," Robertson said.

"It's very important all the things we are doing now are to enable people to get through the next days and weeks - but it's just the beginning," he said.

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