The New South Wales government is offering $10,000 to small businesses impacted by coronavirus related shutdowns – but restaurants say they need rent relief

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  • The New South Wales government is offering $10,000 grants to businesses impacted by the coronavirus related shutdowns.
  • To be eligible, businesses must have between 1 and 19 employees and a turnover of more than $75,000.
  • The Restaurants and Catering Association supports the move but is also lobbying the government to support rent abatements for the industry.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Small businesses hit by coronavirus related shutdowns will be eligible for $10,000, under a new grant scheme offered by the New South Wales government.

The state government is putting $750 million into the Small Business Support Fund to help businesses stay afloat during the federal government’s shutdown.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new funding was based on a similar scheme rolled out during the NSW bushfires, which gave $42 million to 4,200 businesses within the first 10 days of it launching.

“This is about getting cash into small businesses when they are struggling right now in the face of an unprecedented situation,” Berejiklian said in a statement. “These grants will provide a big boost, and we will make the application process easy to ensure small businesses can receive some cash-flow as soon as possible to meet pressing needs.”

The grants are offered through Service NSW and will stay open until June 1, 2020.

To be eligible, businesses must have between 1 and 19 employees and a turnover of more than $75,000. They must also be “highly impacted” by the government’s order to shut down businesses and use the funds for “unavoidable business costs” like utilities, legal costs, overheads and financial advice.

The types of businesses eligible include cafes, restaurants, gyms, corner shops and small accommodation providers.

State Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the grants will help ensure businesses that aren’t eligible for payroll tax waivers and deferrals can “live to trade another day”.

The government claims it is the largest support package for small businesses in the history of New South Wales.

The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association supports the state government’s new grants

Restaurant and Catering Association (RCA) CEO Wes Lambert told Business Insider Australia the industry body “absolutely supports” the government’s $10,000 grants.

“Small businesses need [a] direct injection of cash,” he said. “So any funding from the state and federal government is absolutely applauded and appreciated.”

RCA represents 45,000 cafes, restaurants and catering businesses throughout Australia. Lambert said members in the industry have seen sales drop from anywhere between 25% to 100%.

“A third of the industry is closed so these grants will go to help them pay fixed costs,” Lambert said.

The organisation is also advocating for states to continue offering as much help as possible to restaurant businesses.

“40% of meals were eaten out of home up to this point. Now 100% of meals are eaten in the house,” Lambert said. “So it’s very important that diners can continue to support their favourite restaurants or they won’t exist on the other side. And it’s very important that the government ensures that as many businesses as possible stay in business, so that they can keep as many people employed as possible.”

Lambert also highlighted two other factors the RCA is lobbying the government for – rent abatements and support for temporary skilled workers.

“Deferment just creates future liabilities which may create future business collapses under the weight of a lot of debt on the other side,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already announced a moratorium on evictions for the next six months for both residential and commercial tenants who aren’t able to “meet their commitments”.

“Under the coronavirus temporary changes, you can’t be evicted on a state level now,” Lambert said. “The rules have changed but they’re all temporary changes. And we don’t want there to be a bout at the end of this where businesses are faced with bills that went unpaid that have accrued for that whole time”.

Lambert also mentioned making temporary skilled migrants eligible for the Jobkeeper program, announced earlier this week by the federal government as part of a $130 billion package. The program will subsidise wages for employers affected by the economic downturn with full-time, part-time, casual employees and sole traders eligible for $1,500 a fortnight.

“We are lobbying for at least temporary skilled sponsored migrants be added to the list because they moved their families and their career to Australia to fill skills gaps and they’re not here on a holiday and certainly should be considered for the Job Keeper [allowance].”

The NSW government’s $10,000 grant is just its latest assistance package. It’s previously announced more than $5 billion in payroll tax waivers, deferrals and other tax deferrals, and a $1 billion fund to create jobs.

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