Upon announcing that Greater Sydney is to remain in lockdown until at least Saturday, 28 August, the NSW Government announced a significant boots to the JobSaver program, in partnership with the Australian Government.
Additionally, a partnership between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, Victorian Support Package worth $400 million will help deliver much-needed cash flow for Victorian hotels as they emerge from the lockdown, but still are operating under capacity restrictions.
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has welcomed the announcement of additional support for both New South Wales and Victoria in response to their lockdowns and trading restrictions.
AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson commended the Federal and State Governments for the amendments to the three packages: the Federal Government’s JobSaver scheme, the NSW COVID Disaster Payment and the Victorian Business Support Package.
“The assistance to business is welcome and helps keep people’s head above water but those businesses continue to accrue substantial levels of debt each and every day that they remain closed or under restrictions – debt that must be repaid.”
“Our employees just want to get back to work, but getting money into their pockets as quickly as possible will help them navigate this crisis and we commend both tiers of Government for their timely response.”
JobSaver payments will now be available to businesses with an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $250 million, up from $50 million, which have experienced a revenue decline of 30 per cent or more.
The maximum weekly payment has also been substantially increased, with businesses that maintain employee headcount able receive between $1,500 and $100,000 per week, up from $10,000, with payments based on 40 per cent of their weekly NSW payroll.
“We know these restrictions are tough but necessary to get the current situation under control and that is why we are coming to the table to help businesses and individuals with more financial support,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We don’t want people to have to worry about how they are going to keep the lights on or reopen their businesses when restrictions ease, which is why we are investing billions to give people that piece of mind.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said this latest round of assistance continued to build on the NSW Government’s COVID-19 support measures, with billions now committed, including the $4.1 billion announced earlier this month.
“We know that keeping workers in jobs is critical, which is why we’ve fought hard to secure additional support to help businesses hold onto their staff,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We appreciate how difficult it is for businesses right now, and we are also prioritising getting money out the door and into pockets as fast as possible.”
COVID Disaster Payment
Increased funds will also be made available to workers via the NSW COVID Disaster Payment. Eligible workers will receive $750 per week if they lose 20 hours or more of work while those that lose between 8 and less than 20 hours, or a full day of work, will receive a payment of $450 per week.
In a combined statement from the offices of the Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Australian Government said: “This new level of payment recognises the significant impact that the new COVID-19 Delta strain is having on communities, businesses and workers.
“Payments will continue to support workers in every state and territory who lose hours due to a state government lockdown or public health order.
Victorian Support Package
There are a number of facets to the Victorian Support Package but the one most relevant here is that the package builds on the Victorian Government’s support for licensed hospitality venues, with an additional $70 million for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021.
Grants of up to $20,000 will be made available for licensed venues, in recognition of the fact that their business models depend on more dining in and have higher operating costs. To receive this, businesses must have received or been eligible for the previous Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Victorian businesses had borne the brunt of the heavy cost of lockdowns that kept the state and Australia safe.
“Last year, Victoria and our nation faced heavy blows from COVID, but with the right supports in place our economy and businesses came back strongly and a million people returned to work,” Mr Morrison said.
“We will continue to do what is necessary to support Victorian businesses as we face the evolving challenges of COVID-19.”
The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said, “This package is all about jobs – protecting and growing jobs to support Victoria’s economic recovery.”
The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Morrison Government supported Victorians during the crisis and will continue to support them to the end of this crisis.
“Having battled five lockdowns Victorian businesses have been amongst the hardest hit in the nation,” the Treasurer said.
“No amount of support can make up for what business owners have experienced over the last year and half, but this latest package will support them as they reopen after this latest lockdown.”