Wage subsidy: MSD faces legal action over lack of enforcement – Thumbnail
Businesses are reporting problems claiming wage subsidies after the Ministry of Social Development accidently announced at about 8pm on Thursday night that applications had closed, which was about four hours early.
The ministry said on its Facebook page that in fairness to businesses that had left claiming the subsidy until after the error, that it had extended applications to 7am on Friday morning.
But one business owner questioned how likely it was that everyone who had left it until the last few hours to apply would have “stumbled across” that post.
One said the ministry appeared to have dug itself into a deeper hole and called for a “proper extension” and apology.
Many other businesses were reporting problems on Friday morning applying early for the second round of subsidies, for which applications should have opened at 9am.
They were reporting having to repeatedly submit applications after receiving error messages, sometimes still without success.
Ministry of Social Development services manager Jason Dwen said he was not aware of any outages on Friday when he believed the application process had been working smoothly.
Thursday’s error, between 8pm and 10pm, arose because of work taking place to prepare the website for the opening of the second round of applications on Friday, he said.
“We’re working through a process to deal with people who feel they have missed out.
“A complaint form is available on the Work and Income website and we’ll be in contact as soon as possible to discuss,” he said.
National Party social development spokeswoman Louise Upston said the Government needed to ensure no-one missed out on the subsidies because of the problems.
“Government websites were clear that the wage subsidy applications would close at 11.59pm on Thursday for the first fortnight of payments which covers the time when all of New Zealand was in level 4 lockdown,” she said.
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“However, last night National MPs were inundated with messages from businesses, some as early as 8.30pm, frustrated to learn applications for the first round had closed early.”
Later in the evening, at about 10.30pm, applications appeared to reopen, she confirmed.
Upston said the “bungle” had added further stress to many businesses and employees who were already doing it tough.
“More rigorous testing of the IT infrastructure in the event of another Covid outbreak should’ve been undertaken,” he said.
Upston said National continued to hear from businesses which had submitted wage subsidy applications but had yet to get a response, or receive a payment after being approved.