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New financial support for self-employed/sole-traders affected by Omicron

Story Published Monday 28 February 2022
Covid 19 Financial Support Information

New support schemes have been announced that will support the arts, culture, and heritage sector. Applications for IRD's COVID-19 Support Payment and the Ministry of Culture & Heritage Emergency Relief Grant open today.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister David Parker announced the new financial support measures last week, saying they would support businesses that were struggling during the Omicron outbreak.

"We can see that the majority of the economy is operating close to normal, but in some sectors, like hospitality and events, there has been a significant drop-off in business. There are a range of reasons for this, but it is clear that the impact is putting a number of viable businesses at risk of not being able to operate."

Note: Receiving funding from Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s Grant for Self-Employed Individuals will impact on eligibility for Inland Revenue’s COVID-19 Support Payment, so please check the criteria for both funds carefully so you can choose the scheme that best meets your needs.

Ministry of Culture & Heritage Emergency Relief Grant

The new one-off grant of $5,000 will open for applications from 2pm Monday 28 February. It is available to self-employed people whose main employment activity over the last 12 months is in the arts, culture and heritage sector and whose income has been directly affected by a move to ‘Red’ under the COVID-19 Protection Framework on 23 January 2022.

This Grant will remain open for applications until either the country moves out of the ‘Red’ setting or the available funding has been fully allocated.

Please carefully read the eligibility criteria before applying.


Organisations, including sole Traders with employees, are not eligible for the Grant. Organisations can apply for support through the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund – Organisations, which is a fund of last resort to support cultural organisations, including sole traders with employees, who are at clear risk of no longer operating viably. Organisations can receive up to $300,000 through this fund.

IRD COVID-19 Support Payment

A new targeted COVID-19 Support Payment, administered by Inland Revenue, will be made available for businesses – including self-employed people – struggling with reductions in income during the Omicron outbreak.

Each COVID-19 Support Payment will be $4,000 per business plus $400 per full-time employee, capped at 50 FTEs or $24,000 (or 8 times the revenue decline, whichever is lesser). It will be available on a fortnightly basis for six weeks – meaning that a self-employed person that meets all criteria could receive up to $13,200 from the scheme (3 x $4,400).

Applications for the first payment open on Monday 28 Feb at 8am, with payments starting from March 1.

Please carefully read the eligibility criteria before applying.


Note: The new COVID-19 Support Payment scheme will not work for all self-employed people in the arts and culture sector – for example, some artists have sporadic incomes and will not be able to demonstrate eligibility for Inland revenue’s scheme.

Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme

The Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme is also being extended, allowing firms that had already accessed it an extra $10,000.

It would have a new repayment period of five years, with the first two years being interest free. The interest already accrued from borrowers accessing the scheme would also be cancelled for the first two years of the loan.

"This change will mean interest will only start accruing at the beginning of year three," Parker said.

Parker also said Inland Revenue's ability to allow businesses to be flexible in their tax payment dates and terms was being extended. Any business struggling to pay tax because of Covid-19 should access their myIR account to see if they could delay starting payments, or if any part of the tax could be written off.

The department could help with GST as well as provisional tax due.

More information will come available on IRD's website.