The newest support package announced by the Prime Minister and NSW Premier has been welcomed by some Aussie businesses who have taken a hit from the recent NSW lockdowns.
Business NSW said the support payments are a big boost for businesses dealing with the crippling impacts of lockdown in the Greater Sydney area.
But, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has blasted the move saying the Prime Minister has abandoned workers.
What will businesses get?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian formally announced the package on Tuesday afternoon.
Businesses will now get continued access to the NSW Business Grants package for a third lockdown week, as it has been extended.
A cash boost has been made available 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.
For smaller businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 that can demonstrate a 30 per cent reduction in turnover (where the business is the primary source of income) can apply for $1500 fortnightly grants.
There is also 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 million and $10 million.
The package includes an 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.
There are also 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.
Businesses welcome the plan
Business NSW CEO Daniel Hunter said the organisation has been working closely with both the state and Federal governments over the past week, focussing on what could be done to help businesses retain employees.
“It’s great to see this package rolled out that will support the doors staying open and staff keeping their jobs,” Hunter 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.”
Hunter said the lockdown’s impact on business owners’ mental health has been heartbreaking, with many business owners having closed the doors, unlikely to ever reopen.
“It’s also important to highlight that although Greater Sydney has been in lockdown, the impact to regional businesses has been immense, as they’ve missed out on the strong school holiday trade, as well as a lack of forward bookings,” Hunter said.
“This support will give business owners the opportunity to retain their staff and give them the best chance to rebound their operations when the lockdown finishes.”
Westpac CEO Peter King has also welcomed the increased payments and support measures, noting the requirement that businesses maintain current staffing levels.
Under the new package businesses will only be able to access the payments so long as they don’t let go of any staff.
“The new support measures focus on business and household cash flow and keeping people employed, which is important given the likelihood of current restrictions being extended as the Government seeks to keep Australians safe,” King said.
“Early signs point to our customers’ resilience and while it’s a challenging time for many, at this stage we’re seeing only a small number of customers seeking deferrals and extra support. Our priority is to stay close to customers and remind them that we are here to help, and to call us early if they are under pressure financially.”
Employsure said businesses and employers should take a “cautious but optimistic” approach following the announcement.
“While employers wait for the first payments to hit their bank account, they must preserve as much cash as they can and make sure they are able to bridge their flow of income,” said Nicholas Hackenberg, employment relations specialist at Employsure.
“SMEs have been crying out for more support, and these new payments will allow them to operate with more confidence over the coming weeks and months. Without continued, ongoing support, the cost of maintaining a business and paying staff significantly add up with each passing day.”