Australian Government releases COVID-19 support package for NSW
As a national response to the recent COVID-19 outbreaks, the Australian Government has increased weekly payments for households and boosted business cash flow to get citizens through the extended lockdowns.
The new arrangements were developed after close cooperation between the national government and the NSW state to ensure that additional support will be quickly rolled out under a new cost-sharing agreement.
The support package will increase the COVID-19 Disaster Payment and the 50/50 cost-sharing arrangement for a new and expanded small-to-medium business support package which is to be implemented and administered by NSW.
This level of support will be applied on a national level. Any state or territory that experiences an extended lockdown beyond week three following a Commonwealth-declared hotspot will receive such support.
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
Under the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, the national government will enhance and expand the financial support available to NSW and other states that experience an extended lockdown.
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment will increase from $500 to $600 per week if a person has lost 20 hours or more of work a week or $325 to $375 per week if a person has lost between 8 and 20 hours of work.
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment will become a recurring payment for approved recipients as long as the Commonwealth-declared hotspot and lockdown restrictions remain in place, removing the need for recipients to re-claim for each seven-day period of a lockdown.
Those that have lost more than 8 hours or a full day of work are eligible for the payment regardless if they are still working or not.
From 18 July 2021, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will be available to those outside Commonwealth-declared hotspots in NSW that meet the criteria for the payment.
The NSW government will fund any payments outside of a Commonwealth-declared hotspot while the national government fund those within a Commonwealth-declared hotspot.
This arrangement will be available to other states and territories for future lockdown as a result of a Commonwealth-declared hotspot.
Small-and-medium business support payments
Starting week four of the lockdown, the national government will fund 50 per cent of the cost of a new small-and-medium business support payment.
This support payment will be implemented and administered to the public by Service NSW.
Business owners will be eligible for such payments if their turnover is 30 per cent lower than an equivalent two-week period in 2019.
They will receive 40 per cent of their NSW payroll payments at a minimum of $1500 and a maximum of $10,000 per week.
The new small-to-medium business support payment will be available to non-employing and employing entities in NSW, with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million.
To receive the payment, businesses will be required to maintain their full-time, part-time and long-term casual staffing level as of 13 July 2021.
For non-employing businesses, the payment will be set at $1,000 per week. Businesses can register their interest from 14 July 2021 at Service NSW
The financial assistance will cease when current lockdown restrictions are eased or when the Commonwealth-declared hotspot is removed.
Commonwealth business tax relief
The national government will also provide additional support through the tax system by making NSW small business grants tax-exempt.
Administrative relief will also be given to NSW taxpayers who are facing hardship. This will include reduced payment plans, no interest charged on late payments and varying instalments on request.
Mental health support
Under the COVID-19 support package, a $17.35 million mental health support package will be delivered for NSW citizens.
Crisis and mental health services including Lifeline, free 24-hour support via Sonder and counselling for perinatal depression and anxiety will be boosted under this package.
The package will also fund mental health support for vulnerable and culturally and linguistically diverse communities and assist young people through headspace, Kids Helpline and the Butterfly Foundation.
The increase in support for states and territories experiencing extended lockdowns is part of the national government’s plan to secure Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession.
The COVID-19 support package adds to existing programs such as HomeBuilder, which is an expanded instant asset write off. It also lends additional support for retaining and training apprentices and record support for mental health and women’s safety.