New government support for restrictions-hit businesses welcomed

HELP NEEDED: Vicki Seccombe from Business NSW.
HELP NEEDED: Vicki Seccombe from Business NSW.

THE state's peak business organisation, Business NSW, says a support package from the federal and state governments is a big boost for businesses dealing with the crippling impacts of the latest COVID restrictions.

Some of those businesses are in Oberon, where accommodation operators have been hit hard by the lockdown in Sydney.

The support package includes:

  • The extension of the existing NSW Business Grants package for a third lockdown week.
  • A cash boost for businesses across NSW with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million which can demonstrate a 30 per cent reduction in this turnover during lockdown. The cash boost will be 40 per cent of weekly payroll with a payment amount between $1500 to a maximum of $10,000 per week from week four onwards, provided staffing levels are maintained.
  • $1500 fortnightly grants for micro businesses with turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 which can demonstrate a 30 per cent reduction in turnover where the business is the primary source of income.
  • A payroll tax deferral this quarter for all businesses, and a waiver for this quarter if you can demonstrate a 30 per cent reduction in turnover and you have a payroll of between $1.2 and $10 million.
  • Increase in the payment amount for stood-down workers from $500 to $600 per week for those who lost more than 20 hours, and to $375 for those who lost between eight and 20 hours, and for it to be available to workers outside of Sydney lockdown areas.
  • Several provisions around residential, commercial and retail leases, including no lockouts and forced evictions, and those landlords who provide rent relief will be given land tax reduction incentives.

"Business NSW has been working closely with both the state and federal governments over the past week on this package, particularly around what more could be done for business owners to retain their employees, and it's great to see this package rolled out that will support the doors staying open and staff keeping their jobs," Business NSW western NSW regional manager Vicki Seccombe said.

"What is crucial now is for the support money to start flowing as quickly as possible - the government has assured business applications will open later this month with the money to be paid days after that.

"The western NSW community is not in lockdown, but the impact to our business community has been strongly felt through cancellations, reduced capacities, income loss and a lack of forward bookings.

"We have been surveying our members throughout western NSW, and initial high-level results suggest business revenue is down by at least 40 per cent in certain sectors.

"Tourism-related and hospitality sectors continue to be the most affected industries from the lockdowns and restrictions across our region.

"The impact the restrictions has had on the mental health of business owners has been heartbreaking to see, as many business owners are once again changing tack to accommodate these restrictions and keep their businesses running.

"This support will give business owners the opportunity to retain their staff and give them the best chance to rebound their operations when the restrictions finish."

Sharon Coleman from the Highlands Motor Inn said in last week's Review that once the government locked Sydney and the Blue Mountains down, "we had three weeks of bookings cancelled overnight".