Small businesses in New South Wales will be able to access COVID-19 support payments from July 19, as part of a new support package announced by the state government today.
The package will include grants of between $5000 and $10,000 to support small businesses affected by the current two-week lockdown across Sydney and regional areas, as well as an extension to the state’s Dine & Discover vouchers, which are designed to support hospitality providers.
The NSW government will provide three categories of grants to small businesses that have seen a decrease in revenue during the restrictions, based on the level of revenue decline.
Businesses that have seen their revenue decline by 70% across a minimum two-week period, starting from June 26 and compared to an equivalent period in 2019, will receive $10,000.
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For businesses that have seen a revenue decline of 50%, they will receive a $7,000 payment, and those that have seen their revenue decline by 30% will receive $5,000.
Businesses will need to meet the eligibility requirements of two different streams to receive the payments.
The first stream will be available to small businesses and sole traders with annual turnover above $75,000 but below the payroll tax threshold of $1.2 million, as of July 1, 2020. These businesses must also have fewer than 20 full-time employees, and be able to show they primarily operate in NSW or have an Australian Business Number registered in NSW.
The second stream will be for hospitality and tourism businesses that have annual turnover above $75,000, but below $10 million. These businesses must also be able to show they primarily operate in NSW or have an ABN registered in NSW.
The payments will be available to businesses located in all parts of NSW, not only in Sydney, and payments will begin to flow from July 19.
During a press conference on Tuesday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her government understands many small businesses across the state are under significant stress because of the current restrictions, and especially during the school holiday period.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the support package will likely end up costing the states “hundreds of millions” but the total will depends on the take-up among businesses. Applications for the payments will need to be made to Services NSW and include a letter from an accountant to show the businesses’ decline in revenue.
“Our message to every business, and every person, across New South Wales is that we’ve got your back,” the Treasurer said, adding that the government’s focus is on “keeping business in business”.
“There’s no doubt that as difficult as the last 18 months have been, we will get through the next couple of weeks.”
Additional relief and Dine and Discover extended
Perrottet said the government will also support businesses by deferring payroll tax liabilities due in July 2021, as well as gaming machine tax liabilities for hotels.
He also urged both commercial and residential landlords to support their tenants if they are experiencing hardship during this time.
“Please work with them,” he said.
The state’s Dine & Discover vouchers, which were due to finish at the end of July, will also be extended to the end of August.
Customers will also be able to use the vouchers for takeaway delivery from registered businesses, if they order directly from the business and not via third-party platforms.
NSW recorded 19 positive COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday. Premier Berejiklian thanked the more than 67,000 people who got tested on Monday, but said NSW citizens will need to “live differently” until a larger proportion of the population is vaccinated.
The Premier urged residents in her state to get vaccinated, and encouraged anyone who has already had the first does of the Astra Zeneca vaccine to also get their second does.
Frustrations at delays
Today’s announcement comes four days after the stay-at-home orders were announced for four local government areas on Friday, and expanded COVID-19 restrictions across Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong from Saturday evening.
The delay in announcing business support caused frustration among the SME community. On Monday, Alexi Boyd, interim chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations (COSBOA), said businesses in NSW need “meaningful, immediate and accessible support”.
A similar situation occurred in Victoria at the end of May when businesses were forced to wait a number of days before the state government provided details about what support would be made available to businesses.
At the time, business groups called for a nationally consistent approach to restrictions and associated support measures for businesses, and those calls have again been made in recent days.
On Monday, COSBOA reiterated its call for the National Cabinet to develop a natural support program for businesses affected by local COVID-19 restrictions.
“We shouldn’t be figuring out the details of business support in the midst of a crisis,” said Boyd.
“We’re 16 months into the pandemic now and while we need to be guided by the health experts, we’ve known about the risks of additional outbreaks and lockdowns for a long time. Lockdowns must be advanced used consistent definitions of what constitutes an essential businesses as well as applying consistent and clear eligibility criteria for business support.”