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NSW government announces small business support package amongst Omicron wave

The NSW government has announced a new support package to help SMBs through the Omicron wave.
Sunset over sydney skyline

The NSW government has announced a new package of small business support, as pressure for business intensifies under the Omicron wave.

Small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) across the country have been struggling since the new Covid-19 strain took off in December. As cases have peaked, many businesses have been doing it tough over the ‘shadow lockdown’. In addition to supply chain issues and staffing concerns; it’s been a rough start to the year for many.

Without widespread public health orders, however, there hasn’t been an instant support response for businesses or affected individuals.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean acknowledged this hardship, suggesting that the package could give them the boost they need to survive as the Omicron wave slows, with the cash directed towards, “those parts of the economy that are really struggling”.

How much is the support package worth?

The entire package is worth $1billion and will be distributed in different ways across the economy.

About $80million of the total package will be allocated to the performing arts sector, which has been significantly impacted due to restrictions and slow ticket sales as a result of the ‘shadow lockdown’.

How will businesses receive the package?

Eligible businesses will be able to access payroll support to keep staff jobs secure. Payments will cover 20% of weekly payroll, up to $5,000 per week – with some media outlets labelling the scheme as ‘Jobsaver 2.0’. Businesses will not have this percentage of payroll costs covered for the January period. The payment, instead, will cover February and be paid in a lump sum.

The government will also be expanding the Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate, revising the previous limit of $2,000 to $3,000. Businesses will also be able to claim the cost of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) as part of this rebate.

For the arts sector, support dollars will underwrite ticket sales for struggling organisations.

Which NSW businesses are eligible for support?

During the Sunday announcement, Mr Kean highlighted some businesses that may need this support immediately; “Those businesses that ply their trade through face-to-face trading, things like hairdressers, nail salons, the tourist industry and also hospitality and bricks and mortar retail.”

Eligibility criteria currently target businesses with a turnover of less than $50million, who have experienced at least a 40% decline in turnover in January. There may be more eligibility criteria to come.

When can NSW businesses apply for support from the package?

Applications for the support package will open in mid-February. We recommend watching the service.nsw.gov.au site for updates on when and how to apply.

Will there also be federal government support?

At this point, there has been no announcement around federal government support – which is fuelling some controversy. Premier Dominic Perrotet requested that the Commonwealth split the cost of the package, but this request was refused.

“I was hoping to make this announcement standing beside the Prime Minister today and the Treasurer Frydenberg, but they’re not to be found,” said Mr Kean.

“These are not just New South Wales businesses, they’re Australian businesses, Australians that pay their taxes to the Commonwealth government. So what we want to see is rather than the Commonwealth government stepping aside we want to see the Commonwealth government stepping in.”

When is the ‘shadow lockdown’ due to end?

This one is quite hard to measure, but it’s a good indication that we seem to have passed the Omicron peak. Cases in all states apart from WA have begun to plateau, and hospitalisations have also started to stabilise.

The changes to consumer behaviour are still up in the air. It may take several months for people to comfortably move through the community again, and this will likely be much longer for immunocompromised people and their families.

There are also still many travel limitations for incoming tourists. While students and those on working visas are now welcome to the country, the border remains mostly closed to travellers. As domestic tourism flattens after summer, it could be a rocky few months for tourism operators yet.

Supporting your team through Omicron.

It’s ok to acknowledge that 2022 is so far not the easy ride we had all hoped it would be. We hope that if your business is struggling, these newly announced supports can help.

Whatever challenges your business is facing, we have plenty of tips to help you support your team through this strange time. Find more information about your team and Omicron, or check out our guide to helping your team tackle pandemic fatigue.

As always, our Covid-19 Resource Hub is always here for you with helpful tools and information, so that we can get through this latest round of challenges together.

Disclaimer: While due care has been taken in preparing the document, no responsibility is accepted by the author for the accuracy or suitability of the information contained. All liability is expressly disclaimed for any loss or damage which may arise from any person relying on, using or acting on any information contained therein.

The Team
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