2 Nov 2011

Six weeks' help for businesses hit by Rena grounding

6:59 pm on 2 November 2011

The Government will provide six weeks of financial support to the Tauranga businesses worst affected by the grounding of the Rena.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the subsidy will be for small businesses that either can't operate, or have experienced significant loss as a result of the grounding and the subsequent oil spill.

To be eligible, businesses will need to show they have already exhausted any insurance cover, and are unable to relocate their operation.

From Monday, they will be able to apply for a six-week subsidy of $500 a week for full-time staff, and $300 a week for part-timers.

It's estimated up to 120 employees could receive the wage subsidy.

Prime Minister John Key earlier told reporters in Tauranga the assistance will be for a small group of specific businesses.

Mr Key says they would have had to have been directly and significantly impacted by the disaster.

He cited fishing companies, surf schools and dolphin swimming businesses as examples.

Mr Key says the Government is working with Tauranga Chamber of Commerce on the initiative.

The chamber has described the package as a good start.

Chief executive Max Mason says it provided the Ministry of Social Development with a report on affected businesses a week-and-a-half ago.

He says the chamber has also been working with Work and Income on the issue.

Mr Mason says dozens of businesses have been substantially affected by the operation and others have had to cease trading altogether while the salvage and clean-up operation is underway.