NSW government announces support for lockdown-affected businesses and workers

Small business owner wearing mask.

The NSW government has unveiled a support package for Sydney households and businesses struggling to stay afloat as the state enters its third week of lockdown.

The cash boost comes as NSW recorded 89 new Covid cases today, making it extremely unlikely that Sydney’s lockdown will be lifted this week as originally planned.

NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet had initially called for the JobKeeper wage subsidy to be reinstated, but the federal government refused to revive the $90 billion scheme.

However, it has agreed to co-fund this latest support package, which was drawn up by the NSW and federal governments over the weekend and approved by an expenditure review committee on Monday.

With no clear end to the lockdown in sight, the measures announced today hope to contain the damage to the NSW economy, which makes up one third of economic activity in Australia.

Support for businesses

Under the scheme, businesses with an annual turnover of up to $50 million can receive payments of between $1,500 and $10,000 per week to help cover costs and wages, with the proviso that workers are not to be sacked

The payments will cover a maximum of 40 per cent of a business's payroll, so long as they can demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent.

Sole traders can also receive payments of $1,000 per week.

As for microbusinesses (businesses with an annual turnover between $30,000 and $75,000), a $1,500 fortnightly payment will be available to those that have suffered a 30 per cent reduction in turnover.

Disaster payment increase

Disaster payments for affected workers will also increase from $500 a week to $600, while those working between 8 and 20 hours a week can now claim $375.

The lump sum payments will be available to those who can’t attend work or have lost income due to a COVID-19 lockdown, nationally-recognised hotspot, or period of restricted movement lasting longer than seven days.

“You don’t have to have lost your job. You don’t have to have left your employer. It doesn’t matter who your employer is. If you have lost those hours, you can access that payment right now,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Perrottet also clarified that a rolling eligibility system will not apply, meaning workers will not be required to submit a new claim for each additional week of lockdown or restricted movement. 

“Once that application is made through Services Australia, it’s then an ongoing payment for the length of the lockdown,” he said.