NSW businesses and others hit by Sydney’s ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown will receive additional support from a financial support package announced by the NSW and federal governments.
The funding aims to improve business cash flows and ease the pressure on small business owners and individuals.
Prime minister Scott Morrison and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the package this afternoon.
Who is eligible?
The support package is two-fold, an expansion of the COVID-19 disaster payment and a reworking of the cash booster scheme to provide assistance to small businesses.
Individuals who cannot work due to the lockdown will see their COVID-19 disaster payments increase by up to $100 a week to a maximum of $600 – but only after week four of the lockdown, which means July 23.
Eligible NSW businesses with a 30% or more decline in turnover during the latest lockdown will also receive up to $10,000 a week towards their payroll bill.
Premier Berejiklian said the support would provide people and businesses that are doing it tough with peace of mind.
“So that no matter where you live if you are suffering at home because of the stay at home provisions, you are able to make sure that you and your loved ones don’t go through that stress no matter how [long lockdown lasts],” she said.
“These payments will make sure that whether you are someone who runs a business or someone who is an employee, you will be able to respect the rules we put in place and also have peace of mind. ”
Prime Minister Morrison said the NSW outbreak has proved to be more severe and more dangerous than anticipated.
“It’s in the national interest that we now put in place an upgraded set of [support] arrangements for cooperation with the states and territories – that will first be put into place here in NSW – when lockdowns enter into more protracted situations,” he said.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the Government was offering support in as many areas as possible, with payroll tax cuts for eligible businesses, up to $75 million in support for the performing arts sector and $26 million for the accommodation industry.
“We saw last year during the first lockdown the importance of protecting jobs and ensuring people remained connected with their workplace,” he said.
“The value of our business grants package is now up to $2.1 billion with a 50% increase, there is also a new grant for those smaller businesses turning over between $30,000 and $75,000, and payroll tax waivers for eligible businesses with a payroll up to $10 million that suffer a 30% reduction in turnover.”
How the support payments work
From week four of the lockdown, the Commonwealth will fund 50% of the cost of a new SME support payment.
Eligible businesses will receive 40% of their NSW payroll payments, at a minimum of $1500 and a maximum of $10,000 per week.
Entities will be eligible if their turnover is 30% lower than an equivalent two-week period in 2019.
The new SME support payment will be available to non-employing and employing entities in NSW, including not for profits, with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million.
To receive the payment, businesses will be required to maintain their full time, part-time and long term casual staffing level as of July 13.
For non-employing businesses, such as sole traders, the payment will be set at $1,000 per week.
Businesses can register their interest from July 14 at www.service.nsw.gov.au
Moratorium on evictions
Treasurer Perrottet also urged commercial tenants to work with landlords and call a moratorium on residential evictions.
“We want to encourage retailers right across NSW to work with landlords to make sure that we all get through this difficult time together.
“In addition to that we will also be providing protections when it comes to residential tenancies, there will be no evictions for the next 60 days for those doing it tough, for workers who had a reduction in income by 25%. I will also provide the same land tax and rebates for residential landlords who can provide some rental relief for their tenants.
“For those landlords that don’t qualify for land tax, we will provide a $1,500 payment as well,” the treasurer said.
The fine print
For employees that have been affected by the latest lockdown, the following will now apply.
Moving forward the federal government declares that:
- From week four of a lockdown because of a Commonwealth declared hotspot, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will increase from $500 to $600 each week if a person has lost 20 hours or more of work a week or $325 to $375 each week if a person has lost between 8 and 20 hours of work.
- Make the COVID-19 Disaster Payment a recurring payment for approved recipients for as long as the Commonwealth declared hotspot and lockdown restrictions remain in place. This will remove the need for recipients to re-claim for each seven day period of a lockdown.
- Amend the COVID-19 Disaster Payment so that a person would be eligible for the payment, including where they are still working, provided they have lost more than 8 hours or a full day of work.
From July 18 the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will be available to those outside Commonwealth declared hotspots in NSW that meet the criteria for the payment.
Information about how to apply for COVID-19 Disaster Payment can be found on the Services Australia website.
Payments will end when current lockdown restrictions are eased or when the Commonwealth hotspot declaration is removed.
Business tax relief
The federal government will also provide additional support through the tax system, by:
- Making NSW small business grants, including the new small business payments, tax exempt.
- Providing administrative relief to NSW taxpayers facing hardship, including reduced payment plans, no interest charged on late payments and varying instalments on request.
Mental health support
The Commonwealth and NSW governments will also deliver a $17.35 million mental health support package for NSW including:
- A boost for crisis and mental health services including for Lifeline, free 24 hour support via Sonder and counselling for perinatal depression and anxiety
- Funding for mental health support for vulnerable and culturally and linguistically diverse communities
- Assistance for young people through headspace, Kids Helpline and the Butterfly Foundation.