Millionaire Christchurch couple urge ministry to claw back Covid-19 wage subsidies

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jul 02, 2023 |

Christchurch philanthropists Grant and Marilyn Nelson

Christchurch philanthropists Grant and Marilyn Nelson are calling on the Ministry of Social Development to do more to claw back Covid-19 wage subsidies wrongly given to New Zealand businesses.

They say The Ministry overpaid $10 billion in wage subsidy money and refuses to ask businesses who wrongly retained or obtained the money to pay it back.

In an online petition the couple said if the money is not repaid, every taxpayer will each have to pay several thousands of dollars in taxes to pay back the debt the government has incurred. 

The huge amount of money given away has directly contributed to inflation, increasing prices and the cost of living crisis.

“While every day New Zealanders have struggled to make ends meet, business profitability in Aotearoa skyrocketed in a post-covid world.

“One woman’s businesses received $45 million in wage subsidy payments, despite being able to trade normally for a large portion of the weeks for which payments were made.

“Businesses like this one and many others have not been asked to pay any of the wage subsidy back, even after many have gone on to make record profits.

“The answer is simple, MSD needs to get businesses who have been overpaid the wage subsidy, or who have wrongly retained it, to pay it back.

“The way MSD has handled the wage subsidy scheme repayments is in stark contrast to how it deals with beneficiaries who are overpaid. MSD will hound beneficiaries for as little as a $20 repayment and we want to know why businesses aren’t being treated in the same way.”

“We are concerned New Zealanders who just want to see MSD do the right thing. If you share our concern, now is the time to take action. Sign the petition and make your voice heard.

“The Ministry of Social Development has previously circumvented recommendations made by the Auditor-General and Deloitte so this petition has to state precisely what action is required to get repayments.

The petition has attacted more than 10,000 signatures.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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