This week, the NSW Government announced a major new grants package and changes to the Dine & Discover program to help tens of thousands of small businesses and people across NSW impacted by the current COVID-19 restrictions.
The package includes grants of between $5,000 and $10,000 for small businesses, payroll tax deferrals for all employers, an extension of the Dine & Discover program to 31 August and the ability for people to use Dine & Discover vouchers for takeaway delivered directly to their home by the venue itself.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the centrepiece of the package was the small business support grants which will help businesses by alleviating cashflow constraints while trading is restricted. This can be used for business expenses such as rent, utilities and wages, for which no other government support is available.
“We always said we will do whatever it takes to support businesses and keep people in jobs during the pandemic and that is exactly what we are doing,” Berejiklian said.
“The current restrictions are in place to protect people and keep the community safe, unfortunately businesses continue to incur costs such as rent, power and lost produce, and this will go some way to lessening that financial pain.”
Three different grant amounts will be available for small businesses depending on the decline in turnover experienced during the restrictions – $10,000 for a 70% decline, $7,000 for a 50% decline and $5,000 for a 30% decline.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes the NSW Government’s support package for businesses currently affected by the stay-at-home orders, but with more than $2 billion in lost retail trade anticipated in NSW alone, further measures are needed to get businesses back on a stable footing.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said: “Businesses – including many small businesses – are already bearing the cost of lockdown this year, with no safety net in place. It’s important we get cash into the hands of businesses as soon as possible and we need to ensure that support is targeted to those who need it most,”
“Small businesses in the CBD are a significant ongoing concern. They were already dealing with COVID impacts before this latest outbreak, due to the lack of tourists and city office workers. Today’s financial hardship grants, payroll tax deferrals and an extension of the Dine & Discover program are a step in the right direction.
“If the lockdown is extended beyond two weeks, a more substantial package will be needed.” Zahra said.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the new grants would be available across NSW. “This latest outbreak has coincided with school holidays when a lot of regional areas were counting on more visitors to help boost local economies,” Barilaro said.
“These grants will help many get through the winter, and just like after the bushfires, the floods and the first wave of COVID-19, the regions will lead NSW out the other side.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the small business grants would be available for sole traders and non-for-profit organisations, with expanded criteria to assist most hospitality and tourism operators hit hard by the restrictions during school holidays.
“The NSW economy rebounded strongly from the challenges of 2020 and we’re taking action to ensure we keep that going. We are deploying our fiscal firepower when it matters, by helping small businesses stay in business and keep people in jobs,” Perrottet said.
“Once again we are delivering timely and targeted support to keep businesses in business and people in jobs as we work together to overcome this latest challenge.”
Businesses will be able to apply for the grants through Service NSW from later in July and will need to show a decline in turnover across a minimum two-week period after the commencement of major restrictions on June 26.
The grants will be divided into two streams:
1. Small Business COVID-19 Support Grant. Available to businesses and sole traders with a turnover of more than $75,000 per annum but below the NSW Government 2020-21 payroll tax threshold of $1,200,000 as at 1 July 2020.
These businesses must have fewer than 20 full time equivalent employees and an Australian Business Number (ABN) registered in NSW or be able to demonstrate they are physically located and primarily operating in NSW.
2. Hospitality and Tourism COVID-19 Support Grant. Available to tourism or hospitality businesses that have a turnover of more than $75,000 and an annual Australian wages bill of below $10 million, as at 1 July 2020.
These business must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) registered in NSW or be able to demonstrate they are physically located and primarily operating in NSW.
Other key elements of the package announced include:
- Dine & Discover vouchers will be able to be used for takeaway from eligible and registered Dine businesses during the restriction period. Delivery direct to the home by the restaurant or café is recommended. Food may be picked up from venue but check in with QR code is required. Dine & Discover vouchers cannot be redeemed for takeaway using third party delivery platforms.
- A further one-month extension of Dine & Discover vouchers until 31 August 2021 to allow people more time to use them.
- More than $11 million for increased support for people at risk of homelessness plus assistance to vulnerable temporary visa holders, asylum seekers and refugees.
- An optional deferral of payroll tax payments due in July 2021 and the deferral of hotel June quarter gaming machine tax, with the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue able to provide for appropriate repayment arrangements on a case by case basis.