The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has told the Indian Weekender that 3.54 per cent Kiwi-Indians received the government’s newly announced benefit Covid-19 Income Relief Payment in the first two months (June-July).

The Ministry was responding to the Indian Weekender’s request made under Official Information Act (OIA) about the numbers of Indian-origin people who would have lost jobs after Covid-related lockdown and fallen back on the newly announced benefit relief that offered generous $490 & $250 per week to a previously working full-time and part-time employee.

The spokesperson for the MSD told the Indian Weekender that of the total 20,957 people who received benefit (8th June – 31st July), there were only 743 people who identified as of Indian ethnicity.

According to a NZ Herald report published on August 31, immediately after the government has first released data on the ethnicity, about 43 per cent Pakehas/European New Zealanders received this generous benefit, ahead of 16 percent Maoris, causing much concern of “racial inequality” in the benefit system.

The concern for racial inequality in the benefit system had emanated from the fact that Maoris were more likely to be on the normal benefit (job seeker support) that offers a meagre $250 per week support as opposed to this newly created welfare support that offers $490 per week.

Notably, the government had announced on May 25 a new temporary benefit system -Covid-19 income relief payment – which offers generous relief (as compared to normal job seeker support) to those who have lost jobs because of impact of Covid.

Only New Zealand citizens and residents are eligible for this benefit which can be given for a maximum 12-week period starting from June 8 till October 30.

 

Eligibility for Covid-19 Income Relief Payment: You may be able to get this help if you:

lost your job from 1 March 2020 to 30 October 2020 because of COVID-19, and

worked 15 hours or more a week for at least 12 weeks before you lost your job, and

don’t have a partner earning $2,000 or more each week before tax, and

you’re not getting income protection insurance payments, Paid Parental Leave from Inland Revenue or a redundancy payment of $30,000 or more before tax

you haven’t applied for the Small Business Cashflow Loan.

Income Relief Payment is still available (it'll stop on 5 February).

 

No data on Kiwi-Indians receiving wage subsidy and wage subsidy extension

Meanwhile, responding to another request from the Indian Weekender about the number of Kiwi-Indians receiving wage subsidy, the spokesperson said, “The Ministry is unable to determine the number of people who have received the Wage Subsidy or Wage Subsidy Extension who identify as Indian ethnicity.”

“This is because, Wage Subsidy applications do not require applicants to provide ethnicity details for themselves or their employees,” the spokesperson said.

However, it is important to note that MSD has earlier released data on the ethnicities of people receiving wage subsidy that said that greater proportion Asian-New Zealanders have been supported (64% for the Wage Subsidy and 22% for the Wage Subsidy Extension).

Clarifying further on that report on Asian ethnicities and receiving wage subsidy the spokesperson said, “The reason this report was able to identify some of the ethnic breakdowns of Wage Subsidy recipients is because the Ministry worked with various agencies who provided anonymised information from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to supplement its own data base. This enabled the Ministry to create a more complete understanding of who received support by age, sex, ethnic group, industry and region.”