Report details Covid-19 impact on Waikato

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A Waikato District Council report shows that 63% of Waikato households have reported a drop in income as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In some of those households there has been a total loss of income. The report, available here, also showed:

  • 83% of businesses have accessed the wage subsidy;
  • 90% of businesses reported that they were in ‘okay’ or better health pre-lockdown;
  • Effects of the drought, commodity prices, and export hurdles have negatively impacted the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors;
  • 63% of households have reported a drop in income, some as much as a total loss;
  • Job Seeker benefit numbers have grown by 25%. Compared to other local authorities in New Zealand, the Waikato district is in the middle of the pack;
  • 47% of new ‘job-seekers’ are first time beneficiaries showing that many different types of workers have been affected;
  • Crime rates are increasing;
  • Building consent numbers (construction activity) for the first quarter of 2020 remain strong relative to previous periods however resource consents in the district have been gradually falling since a peak in mid-2018.

The report provides detailed insights and analysis as the country moved into Covid-19 Alert Level 1 this week.

NZ moved into Covid-19 Alert Level 1 this week

Throughout April and May, the council completed over 800 household and business surveys, and together with sources from the Ministry of Social Development, NZ Police, Infometrics and its own data compiled the report.

Strategy and Finance Committee chair Janet Gibb, whose committee received the report, said that although the report highlighted that there were large numbers of people in the community doing it tough, it was pleasing to see that a large portion of households and businesses were positive about the future.

“From the survey, 71% of households told us they weren’t concerned about their job security and 43% of businesses expected business to return to pre-lockdown levels. This shows the spirit of the Waikato district. We’re a tough bunch and I know that together, we will get through this,” she said.

Councillor Gibb was also happy to see that most businesses and residents contacted as part of the survey were pleased to hear from the council.

“Being able to be there for our communities during this time and helping them through these next stages will be vitally important. We will do what we can to be there for them,” she said.

Waikato District Council Analytics Manager Dr Mark Davey noted that while the wage subsidy scheme will be providing a ‘false economy’ for some time, the data already showed that even with the subsidy, the effects on businesses and households were widespread and this shouldn’t be forgotten by the council in the days and weeks to come.

“The effects are likely to come in waves over the next 12-24 months as the various sectors of the economy are impacted differently from things such as a reduction in customers, reduction in global demand and commodity prices, supply chain issues, on-going effects from the droughts and liquidity. Consumer, household and business confidence remains key to enable a speedy recovery,” he said.

Waikato District mayor Allan Sanson said the important information contained in the report put the council in a better position to support and help the district through the Covid-19 recovery.

The council intended to repeat the survey again soon.

The full report can be found on the council’s website as part of the Strategy and Finance Committee agenda here.

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