The Federal government is today expected to unveil a fourth economic stimulus package, this time offering tailored support to tradies.
An anticipated multi-billion-dollar package is reportedly set to support the housing and construction industry, presumably including the sole traders within it.
Federal funding is also expected to be offered to the New South Wales government, to bring forward the construction of the Western Sydney Airport metro train line, in a bid to create additional jobs.
In the latest stimulus funding, the government is expected to announce a cash grants scheme for first-time homebuyers, and also for home renovations.
This is intended to provide work for some 380,000 tradies who have been hit by the slowdown in the housing and home improvement sector.
As restrictions start to be relaxed, the stimulus could also offer a boost to the businesses that have been affected by social distancing rules because they’ve been unable to work inside people’s properties.
It is understood that there will be conditions around what the grants can be used for, but there are no clear details as of yet.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously flagged concerns that a drop in net migration would cause a slowdown in residential construction, having a serious impact on the sector by reducing demand for new homes.
Many sole traders have felt the effects of the COVID-19 economic slowdown. Of the 750,000 or so firms that registered for JobKeeper, some 40% were sole traders.
While we don’t know how many of those are in the trade and housing sectors, ongoing financial hardship and a slower economy mean times may well continue to be hard one the JobKeeper payments stop flowing in October.
“We’re very mindful of the areas in housing construction or in parts of the country, whether it be in north Queensland or other places, that are deeply affected and will be more deeply affected than other parts of the country,” the Prime Minister said last week.
Last week, Master Builders Australia called for a $13.1 billion building and construction stimulus package, and an industry taskforce to oversee implementation.
“Building and construction is shaping up to be one of the industries worst hit in the long term by the COVID-19 economic crisis. We know from previous downturns that it takes four times longer for our industry to recover than the rest of the economy,” chief executive Denita Wawn said in a statement.
“Work for builders and tradies in 2020/21 is fast evaporating and the indications are that 2021/22 will not be much better.
There is no time to spare in meeting this threat to the viability of nearly 400,000 building business and the jobs of 1.2 million people employed in our industry,” she added.
More to come.