Saturday, November 27

Call on the government to offer additional financial and mental health support to businesses

Small businesses say they are at a breaking point and are begging the government for additional support.

Closeup of an assortment of delicious chocolate desserts sitting with drinks on a counter in a bakery

Companies are not sure if they will be viable even at level 2.
Photo: 123RF

Business New Zealand and the National Party want the government to urgently establish a fund targeting small business owners and their employees to access mental health support.

Meanwhile, Hospitality New Zealand wants the salary subsidy to be available even once Auckland goes to alert level 2.

Richard Bagnall, owner of Auckland’s Longroom, loses about $ 12,000 a week and is stressed and anxious about his business.

“It’s sleepless nights, it’s waking up in the middle of the night and starting to think about a lot of things and think about how we’ll get out of this? What does it look like? What can I do to protect our people and our business? “

Your company has been checking in regularly with staff, but even at level 2, you are not sure you can offer everyone a job due to the new restrictions.

Elle Armon-Jones of Vineyard Cottages also found it difficult to find any certainty, as clients looked to change their wedding and Christmas party plans.

“With Delta’s Tier 2 restrictions, everyone is increasingly nervous about keeping their reserves in place in case this goes on any longer, so this is not an easy time,” he said.

Hospitality New Zealand Auckland branch president Jamie Freeman said he has been inundated with emails from struggling business owners.

“To be honest, he’s at a breaking point [..] the messages I’ve seen, the cries for help and just not knowing what’s coming.

“They just can’t plan and it’s not about complaining, it’s not about complaining, it’s just about keeping your head above the water,” he said.

Freeman said that even under Alert Level 2, it was not financially viable for some companies to open their doors due to new restrictions to accommodate Delta.

There are also fears about the mental health of those facing severe financial stress.

National mental health spokesperson Matt Doocey urged the government to establish a $ 10 million mental health support package for small businesses.

The proposed fund would be in partnership with BusinessNZ, regional chambers of commerce and economic development agencies.

Even before the most recent shutdown, a MYOB report showed that more than a third of New Zealand small and medium-sized business (SME) owners had experienced a mental health condition since starting their business.

Kirk Hope of BusinessNZ wanted the proposed fund to help accelerate support for SMEs.

“Smaller companies will generally have less financial resilience, especially if they have gone through five increases in alert level,” he said.

The government established a $ 4.5 million mental health fund in its tourism support package, but this was targeted at the regions.

For those in urban centers, Small Business Minister Stuart Nash said other supports are available.

“We are not planning a specific fund for this, but we do publish a number of tools through, which is a website that provides personalized advice for companies.

“Business Mentors New Zealand provides mentoring, [there’s], there is the Mental Health Foundation, WorkSafe New Zealand, 1737 [line], so there are a number of services, “he said.

Nash said the government understands that times are really tough, so there are wage subsidies and resurgence support payments.

There are no plans at this stage to continue the wage subsidy once Auckland moves to level 2.

However, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the government “will continue to talk to businesses about the economic environment and the challenges they face.”

He noted that the government recently announced a third round of the Salary Subsidy Plan for companies and another Resurgence Support Payment.

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