Christchurch battling on: English


Finance Minister Bill English says it is unclear where the 56,000 Christchurch people who were using the Government earthquake employment subsidy are working now as the subsidy is running down.

English said some might have found other jobs and some might have left the city but not a lot of them had coming knocking at the Government’s door to apply for the unemployment benefit.

The minister was in Christchurch today to address a post-Budget business lunch.

”A couple of months ago I don’t think any of us would have guessed that we only have an extra 700 to 1000 people on the unemployment,” he told the business audience.

He praised Christchurch people for their  resilience after the earthquakes. He said it was amazing how businesses had found their own solutions.

The Government had benefited enormously from the advice of the local business leaders to act quickly and generously.

The earthquake subsidy scheme had given businesses time to assess what they would do.

The subsidy had cost about $200 million. The subsidy has been reducing and expires at the end of the month.

English said the 56,000 on the earthquake subsidy scheme seemed to have picked up their businesses “somehow”.

”I guess we will see eventually.”

But they were not turning up at the Government’s doorstep.

Commentators talked about growth that would result from the reconstruction of Christchurch as it was not real but it was, he said.

To criticism that Budget 2011 was taking from families on Working for Families, English said three quarters of the families on it would receive more and a quarter would receive an average decrease of $4 a week.

The Budget had enabled the Government to hold its sovereign rating and that would help keep interest rates lower.

English said one of the best things for Kiwi families was to have interest rates lower for longer and at present they were the lowest in 45 years.