Westpac NZ plans to help its small business customers impacted by the floods in the upper North Island with a new $1 million fund.

Chief executive Catherine McGrath said small business customers who met the eligibility criteria can apply for a $2,500 cash grant to help with urgent expenses or repairs.

“We’re hearing from customers hit hard by the floods,” she said in a statement. 

“Buildings have been damaged or destroyed and livelihoods impacted. We want customers to know we’re here for them.”

She said the floods had come at a time when many of the bank’s customers were already dealing with heightened financial pressures.

The grants will be available to small businesses in areas that have declared a state of emergency since the severe weather started last Friday.

“We are choosing to focus on small businesses as they tend to have more modest cash reserves than bigger companies and they may not be able to access some of the assistance offered by other agencies, such as the Civil Defence Payment or Auckland Council Emergency Relief Fund,” McGrath said.

“Small businesses are critical to our economy and to the local communities where they operate.”

To be eligible for the cash grants small businesses have to have their main business account with Westpac NZ.

They also need to have less than $2m turnover per year from their combined businesses, experienced damage or business interruption resulting in a loss exceeding $2,500 and the business to be relied upon as a main source of income by its owner.

The fund will remain available until it's fully allocated or until 5pm on Feb 24.