The NSW Government has announced a COVID-19 relief package for those impacted by the latest lockdown in Sydney, but the Night Time Industries Association says more support is needed and it’s calling for the return of JobKeeper.
Although no official announcement has been made yet, the NSW lockdown is expected to be extended for a fourth week after the state recorded 89 cases today.
Chair Justine Baker told 2GB’s Deborah Knight the hospitality sector desperately needs a JobKeeper style employee assistance subsidy. She fears many businesses will not survive the current lockdown without it.
“It’s debilitating – the uncertainty is really crippling for our sector,” she said. “We were really asking for a JobKeeper style subsidy, that really retained and engaged our employees over the last lockdown.
“If we just have a cashflow boost, it is absolutely welcome, but for some of our bigger businesses, it’s just not going to be enough. We have groups who employ 1000 people, their cash burn is $1.2 million a week. It’s unsustainable and these businesses cannot survive lockdown. We don’t know how long this is going to go, obviously, but if we follow a Melbourne example it could be seven or eight weeks.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced this afternoon that the total COVID-19 relief package will now be up to $5.1 billion, including more than $1 billion from the federal government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this afternoon that the new measures mean JobKeeper is “not necessary”.
2021 COVID-19 package for NSW businesses
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the package had three key aims – protecting business, saving and keeping jobs through the lockdown and ensuring people had support during an uncertain and difficult time.
“We have always said we will do whatever it takes to protect the people of NSW and keep our economy strong, and that is exactly what we are doing,” Berejiklian said.
“While our health and medical staff are fighting COVID-19 on the frontline, this comprehensive support package is aimed at saving jobs and protecting businesses until the lockdown is over.”
“We saw last year during the first lockdown the importance of protecting jobs and ensuring people remained connected with their workplace,” Perrottet added.
“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.
“This is a mighty package aimed at ensuring the NSW economy bends in the storm but doesn’t snap. We will come out the other side with a few scrapes but more determined than ever.”
Key components of the 2021 COVID-19 package include:
An extension to the previously announced business grants program. This means eligible businesses with Australian wages below $10 million can claim grants between $7500 and $15,000 to cover the first three-weeks of restrictions, and takes the potential size of the program to $2.1 billion;
Up to $2 billion committed to the scheme to provide cashflow support to businesses to help them retain staff, to be delivered together with the Commonwealth.
Payroll tax waivers of 25% for businesses with Australian wages of between $1.2 million and $10 million that have experienced a 30% decline in turnover, as well as payroll tax deferrals and interest free repayment plans;
A new grants program for micro businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 which experience a decline in turnover of 30%. The businesses will be eligible for a $1500 payment per fortnight of restrictions.
A capped grant of up to $1500 for residential landlords who are not liable to pay land tax who reduce rent for tenants estimated at $210 million;
Land tax relief equal to the value of rent reductions provided by commercial, retail and residential landlords to financially distressed tenants, up to 100% of the 2021 land tax year liability;
Introduction of legislative amendments to ensure a short-term eviction moratorium for rental arrears where a residential tenant suffers loss of income of 25% due to COVID-19 and meets a range of criteria.
No recovery of security bonds, or lockouts or evictions of impacted retail and commercial tenants prior to mediation;
Deferral of gaming tax assessments for clubs until 21 December 2021 and hotels until 21 January 2021;
A $75 million support package for the performing arts sector to be administered by Create NSW;
A support package for the accommodation sector worth $26 million;
$12 million in additional funding for temporary accommodation for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and
$5.1 million in NSW funding to support mental health.
“The support is desperately needed and is welcomed,” Australian Hotels Association chief executive John Whelan said.
“NSW hotels have operated at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity for the past 16 months and the latest lockdown has hit particularly hard. More than 50,000 Greater Sydney-based hotel staff are now out of work.”