50,000 small businesses apply for Govt loans

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says there have been nearly 50,000 applications for the small business loan scheme already - a number he expected to grow.

At a Covid-19 update at Parliament this afternoon, Robertson said economic activity was picking up, with retail spending down around 11% in the latest figures available, which was below the same time last year, but significantly ahead of what it was earlier in the lockdown.

In the past week 1606 people had applied for the job seeker benefit, which was "distressing" for the people involved, but there were signs that the rise was slowing compared to earlier weeks. Since the start of lockdown around 43,000 people had signed up for job seeker. 

MSD had told him that the number of people seeking food grants was falling.

Just over a week ago, the Finance Minister revealed his Government's Covid-19 crisis Budget and a $50 billion spend up to try to help New Zealand's economy recover.

A key question for Robertson is how the country will pay for the increased spending. He believes New Zealanders will pay down its increased debt level over time as a result of the economy growing.

The amount paid out through the wage subsidy had reached $10.9 billion.

Robertson said he had not had particular advice about what would happen when the wage subsidy came to an end.

Rules for churches

Asked about church services, Robertson said the rules had not changed. Church services would be treated as gatherings, with no more than 10 people in one gathering.

Robertson said it was "not the intent of the change" that church services take place with larger gatherings and social distancing.

He expected religious leaders would "behave responsibly" when asked about the risk of clashes at church services this week. Cabinet would discuss whether to allow larger gatherings in the future on Monday.


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