Wages subsidy for small quake-hit firms extended

8:00 pm on 4 October 2010

The Government is extending for four weeks its wage subsidy for employees of small businesses seriously disrupted by the Canterbury earthquake.

The $350 per-person-per-week subsidy available to firms with fewer than 20 employees was announced three days after last month's 7.1 earthquake.

Acting Social Development Minister Judith Collins says some small businesses are struggling to get operational again.

Prime Minister John Key says that the Government was intentionally flexible with the first round of the subsidy but that there will be a more rigorous process during the second - and final - round.

The Government has paid more than $8 million to support nearly 10,000 employees.

Move fast, minister urged

The Canterbury Chamber of Commerce is urging the Government to act quickly to introduce financial help for quake-stricken businesses to relocate.

The chamber's chief executive, Peter Townsend, says the subsidy fails to provide for companies that desperately need to move from damaged buildings in order to start operating again.

Mr Townsend says that between 100 and 150 companies can't afford to shift.

He's pleased that Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is considering helping those people, he says, but the minister must move fast, because every day's delay is costing businesses a lot of money.