Wednesday, 8th April, 2020

Hi all,

Just a few words before I start to thank all of you who have taken the time to give me some feedback about my communications and the work that the Chamber is doing for the business community. As I have said to some, the Chamber executive is only as good as it’s members and our board, so the success of our response is yours.

I would especially like to thank the two or three members who wrote, kindly, saying they thought I was off the mark on one or two topics. It is always hard writing opinions (for that is what they are), even in the best of times.  I am grateful to those who take the time to say they don’t agree with my analysis, please keep the dissenting views coming, I do find them helpful.

The Chamber board met yesterday. Like you, and other Chambers around New Zealand, our business is also being tested. The rainy-day surplus is now being put to good use.  We have picked up the wage subsidy, delayed the start date of a new staff member, but otherwise have not reduced our staffing. We are revising our events business to cope with the forecasted trading environment and are looking forward to being able to start to get us all together face to face. We are holding our breath on how many of you will be able to continue with your paid membership, and are introducing a monthly payment, by credit card, to help your cashflow. Volunteer labour from our member base is assisting us with the additional workload we are experiencing. So, all in all, you can be assured, that the Chamber is prioritising their own sustainability at this time, as well as supporting and relying on, our members.

Many of you are now working on what your demand for labour is likely to be at the end of the 12 week subsidy period. Inevitably this will mean that many more people will face redundancy. If you are able to give me an indication (confidentially assured) on the numbers of people you will be unable to continue to employ after the subsidy runs out. I will use this information to inform the social agencies and QLDC on the likely volume of people needing support in 10 weeks time and to inform redeployment planning.

Finally, I would like you to give yourselves a BIG PAT ON THE BACK. Despite all the media commentary that business is not doing this and not doing that, I see businesses every day acting compassionately and well beyond their normal scope. Business owners and managers have delivered millions and millions of dollars of social welfare subsidises to their staff on behalf of the government, quickly, and in extremely difficult and trying circumstances. I say hats off to you all.

Read on for information on local businesses trading online and some interesting online talks, including one for the tourism sector tomorrow and Mayor Jim Boult's briefing to the business community yesterday.

Wishing you a nice Easter and if you are doing rabbit control, look out for the Easter bunny. We don't want any more catastrophes. 

Regards
Anna Mickell
Chamber CEO


Rates

I wrote last week that member attention was firmly fixed on their operating expenditure. After sorting our wages, eyes were running down the P and L and settling on the rent line. This week, it appears that the rates line is getting some attention.

Other business organisations around the country are calling for rates concessions and some members have asked that QLDC consider doing the same.
QLDC Finance GM Stewart Burns has revised his notification regarding the annual plan average rates increase to 1.8% from the 6.7% indicated in mid-March. Annual plans submissions close Friday 17th April. Click here to make your submission.

The Chamber board understand that rates are a significant expenditure for many of our members, and we will be watching this space carefully. However, many of the infrastructure issues that we face, including the need for improving how we manage water, have not gone away.

B to B trading terms

Those of you with B to B business with on-account trading terms may wish to dig out your trading terms, review them, and ensure that you have up-to-date signed copies on hand. Recent chances to the Act which softens the director responsibilities for trading while insolvent offer benefit to the directors but does increase the risk to suppliers.

There is no doubt that accounts receivable collection is going to be more difficult. Make sure that you are all over this part of your business. Consider whether you need to move to new trading terms for some clients and whether you a satisfied with your AR processes given the much-increased risk.

Support our local essential businesses

Want to vary the diet a bit over Easter? Click here for our list of essential business selling online or face to face in Queenstown and Arrowtown.

Planning for Level 3 and Level 2

Member are reporting that they are struggling to find adequate information on how to plan for de-escalation to level 3 and 2. The only information available currently is here. The Prime Minister has announced today that more information is being prepared for business now - look out for this next week.

Free employer advice line

Otago Southland Employers Association (OSEA) are extending their employer advice line to all our members. Call 0508 656 757 to speak to an employment advisor.  I have accepted this kind offer on behalf of our members. 

Influenza vaccinations - order your staff vaccines now

The MOH has delayed the start date of non-subsidised vaccination by two weeks to ensure that those needing subsidised vaccinations are prioritised. If you have signed up to the Chamber programme you will be sent a new appointment time. Download the registration form here.

Five Mile Pharmacy is also offering vaccinations, but is not included in the Chamber offer. Please ring them directly for booking time, or visit the pharmacy.

Social assistance

There are now over 2500 plus people registered with the EOC Welfare team now. The unmet need is still increasing and this is expected to continue. If you, or someone you know, needs assistance with housing, food or healthcare needs, please encourage them to register with the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) - www.qldc.govt.nz/covid-19#need-help

Repeat supermarket food vouchers are now being allocated, lobbying for central government support is being undertaken by the Salvation Army, QLDC and the Chamber for our migrant workforce. Planning for more people who need support is underway.

There are lots of reports of frustrated migrant workers unable to get through to their embassy. We are also passing this information onto the embassies and to central government. We do not have an update on this, and advise workers to sit tight, and keep trying. 

Donate

A local fundraising campaign, Greatest Needs Fund, has been launched for people affected by Covid19 locally. If you are in a position to donate, the money will be used to support community agencies locally to give support to those in our community - www.wakatipucommunityfoundation.co.nz