Backing small business as economy recovers

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson with the Budget (and the traditional cheese rolls). Photo Prime Minister's Office
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson with the Budget (and the traditional cheese rolls). Photo Prime Minister’s Office

A new digital training, advice and support service will enable small businesses to take advantage of opportunities in e-commerce as they recover from the global economic impact of Covid-19.

Greater use of digital technology will be a hallmark of commerce in the future, yet many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) struggle to embrace new tools because they are so busy focusing on their core business.

“Supporting small businesses is a key plank in our five-point plan for our economic recovery and this programme delivers on our manifesto commitment,” Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash said.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is consistently ranked as one of the easiest places in the world to do business. However, there is more we can do to back small businesses in their work.

“Over the next two years this Labour Government will invest $44 million in continuing the Digital Boost – business training courses for SMEs, and providing new digital business advisory services to help Digital Boost graduates adopt digital ways of working in their businesses. The training, advice and support services will be delivered by private sector specialists and are modelled on the Digital Boost ( programme.

“The Digital Boost Training Programme will assist 30,000 SMEs, and the new advisory service will support 15,000 SMEs to change their businesses per year. It will grow the digital skills and capabilities of the workforce, improve productivity and create more resilient businesses.


“Greater adoption of digital skills and processes will help businesses and their staff to keep working safely through potential future disruptions or civil defence emergencies.

“Digital commerce also contributes to a higher wage, higher productivity and lower carbon economy and builds our brand as a safe and secure place to live, invest, trade, visit and do business.”

The digital commerce initiatives follow an announcement last week that the Government is reducing merchant service fees for small businesses. This is estimated to result in savings of approximately $74 million each year for New Zealand merchants.

In the past year, direct Covid-19 recovery support to the SME sector has been extensive. It has included the wage subsidy, interest-free loans, free business advice through the Regional Business Partners network, grants and loans for tourism businesses, resurgence support payments for alert level changes, the flexi-wage, the leave support scheme, apprenticeship boosts, and a wide range of tax changes affecting depreciation, low value assets, and provisional tax thresholds.

Collins: Budget 2021 lacks a pathway back to prosperity

Today’s Budget lacks the plan and ambition this country needs to grow our economy and reduce the debt burden on future generations, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins said.

“This Budget is confirmation of Labour’s inability to deliver. There is nothing in it for middle New Zealand.

“It is the Broken Compass Budget. Labour doesn’t have any direction for getting the country back on track to prosperity.

“This Budget lacks the aspiration we need if we’re going to grow the economy and create more jobs so we can pay down debt faster.

 “With losses projected for the next five years, the quality of government spending matters now more than ever – and we’ve seen today that Labour does not have its priorities right.

 “To truly ‘secure our recovery’ we need to provide businesses the confidence they need to invest, so they can employ more staff and pay good wages.

 “All New Zealanders are feeling the pinch right now – not just those on jobseeker benefits and the minimum wage – so where is the plan to take the entire country back to prosperity?

“Treasury says the benefit increases announced today are needed to stave off rising poverty because of the economic conditions made worse by the Labour Government – inflation, rent and unemployment. Even with these changes, child poverty rates are set to flat-line while some conditions will get worse.

“There was little in the Budget today for New Zealanders who have seen their rents jump by $100 a week since Labour came into office.

“There was little in the Budget for New Zealanders who are seeing power prices start to increase as the impacts of the oil and gas ban take hold.

“There was little in the Budget for businesses that have been lumped with the extra costs of minimum wage hikes, an extra public holiday and compulsory unionism – on top of the sacrifices they’ve made during the pandemic.

“The Government isn’t intending to fix the Resource Management Act until 2024, which will be cold comfort to those desperate for an end this country’s housing shortage.

“A National Government would be more aspirational for New Zealanders. We don’t want Kiwis to just exist on a benefit. We want them to have jobs, to prosper and to have a future.

“National would eliminate wasteful spending, let Kiwis keep more of what they earn, and give businesses the confidence to invest, innovate and grow.”