NSW Hardship Review Panel offers another chance for COVID-19 support. Here’s what we know so far

Hardship Review Panel

Source: Unsplash/Nico Smit.

The New South Wales government has launched a new COVID-19 Hardship Review Panel, offering financial support to businesses that have previously slipped through the cracks.

The review panel offers a chance at some support for businesses facing financial hardship, but that did not qualify for other COVID-19 support measures.

“COVID-19 has affected so many businesses in NSW and even though we have a number of support measures in place, there are still some businesses under severe financial strain that aren’t eligible for assistance for a number of reasons,” Damien Tudehope, NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business, said in a statement.

“We want to plug that gap as much as we can.”

The announcement comes as new NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested he is also considering a whole new, separate business support package as the state prepares to move out of lockdown.

He suggested that hospitality businesses, in particular, could get extra funding to cover the cost of stock if they’re faced with further lockdowns.

“We want businesses to be stocked up and ready to go and have the confidence to invest in a brighter summer,” Perrottet reportedly said.

In a statement today, Tudehope appeared to double down on this.

“My message to small businesses is this – no matter what corner of the state you’re in, we will be there with you all the way as we navigate this global health pandemic,” he said.

Here’s what we know about the Hardship Review Panel so far.

How much is available through the Hardship Review Panel?

It is not yet clear how much funding these businesses may be eligible for if successful, but they will be assessed individually, on a case-by-case basis.

Payments will be backdated to the point from which business owners can show eligibility.

Who’s eligible to apply for the Hardship Review Panel?

In order to be eligible to apply to the Hardship Review Panel, businesses must show that they do not meet eligibility criteria to apply for the NSW Government’s COVID-19 Business Grant, Micro-business Grant or JobSaver payments.

Or, they must show they made an application that was refused.

This could be, for example, because they have not met the 30% decline in turnover required, or that they have not met the minimum turnover requirements, for example.

Businesses must also prove they are experiencing ‘financial hardship’. For these purposes that means they are at imminent risk of closure; are unable to pay for operating expenses; or they will be forced to reduce staff numbers.

For businesses that don’t have employees, financial hardship can be established if the business owner can show they are unable to provide themselves or their family with basic requirements such as food, shelter, clothing or medical treatment.

All applicants must also show they have not engaged in any ‘excessive and non-essential’ behaviour, and that their hardship is due to COVID-19 and public health orders.

Finally, they must show that it would not be practical for them to draw on other non-essential assets or rearrange finances in order to rectify their financial situation.

How is the Hardship Review conducted?

The panel will include representatives from Revenue NSW, NSW Treasury, and Service NSW and will make a recommendation based on a ‘broad range of factors’, to decide whether or not a business has experienced financial hardship.

Such factors could include whether a business has employees or not; whether it’s in a highly-affected industry; whether it’s in a highly-affected area; and what unavoidable costs it is facing.

The chief commissioner of Revenue NSW will chair the panel, and will make the final decision on applications.

How can businesses apply?

To apply to the Hardship Review Panel, book a call with Business NSW’s Business Concierge service here.

Additional guidelines on the Hardship Review Panel are available here.

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