NSW will offer $10,000 grants to small businesses rattled by COVID-19 lockdowns, after retailers projected a $2 billion loss

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  • NSW businesses experiencing a drop in turnover because of the state’s COVID-19 lockdowns will soon be eligible for state government grants of up to $10,000.
  • “We know that many businesses and individuals in regional New South Wales are also going through a difficult time,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said Tuesday.
  • The state’s Dine & Discover voucher program has also been extended, while access to the new grants will open “from later in July.”
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The New South Wales Government will offer grants of up to $10,000 for businesses across the state which can demonstrate lost turnover during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, as retail, hospitality, and tourism ventures enter another school holiday period under tough circumstances.

Speaking in Sydney Tuesday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the measures were designed to assist traders impacted by the closure of non-essential businesses in Sydney and major regional centres, which is expected to last until July 9.

Authorities “don’t want anyone to feel stressed during the lock down, that they won’t be able to manage their household or their business situation”, Berejiklian said.

The main component of the assistance package is a new grant scheme, which promises to weed out big businesses — and traders with meagre turnovers to begin with.

Businesses which can demonstrate a 70% drop in turnover will be eligible for the full $10,000; a 50% drop will result in a $5,000 grant; and a 30% decline will net hard-hit businesses and sole traders $5,000.

Eligible businesses must demonstrate annual turnover of more than $75,000, but cannot exceed the 2020-21 payroll tax threshold of $1,200,000 as of July last year. Those firms must also have fewer than 20 full-time staff, and show they primarily operate in New South Wales.

Eligible hospitality and tourism operators must have an annual turnover of more than $75,000 with an annual wage bill below $10 million.

The grants will become available to firms across the map, not just active COVID-19 hotspots, reflecting the government’s stated focus on businesses who may lose out on vital holiday period trade as a result of stay-at-home orders elsewhere.

“We know that many businesses and individuals in regional New South Wales are also going through a difficult time, particularly in circumstances where this lock down period has occurred during the holiday season,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.

But businesses will have to wait before the state government casts those emergency lifelines. Access to the grants through Service NSW will not be instant, with the state government advising the process will open “from later in July.”

“Getting that money out the door very quickly is what we are focused on but at the same time, there needs to be evidence of that turnover decline,” Perrottet told reporters.

Dine and Discover extension and payroll tax deferral

To assist hospitality and dining venues whose trade has been slashed, the state’s Dine & Discover voucher program has been extended to August 31, and the $100 vouchers offered under the initiative are now applicable to food delivered by restaurant staff.

“But food must be delivered direct to the home by the restaurant or café and not picked up,” the state government noted, with third-party apps like Uber Eats or Deliveroo not eligible to participate in the scheme.

Businesses can also elect to defer the payroll tax they would otherwise pay in July, and eligible venues with pokie rooms can choose to defer their June gaming machine tax.

The tweaks have been welcomed by the Australian Retail Association, which has warned the lockdowns could cost retailers $2 billion in lost trade.

“Today’s financial hardship grants, payroll tax deferrals and an extension of the Dine & Discover program are a step in the right direction,” said CEO Paul Zahra.

But “if the lockdown is extended beyond two weeks, a more substantial package will be needed.”

The new initiatives come on top of the federal COVID-19 disaster payments, which will open to workers whose hours have been cut because of lockdown restrictions in COVID-19 hotspots.

Those payments, offering up to $500 a week, will only come into effect from July 1, marking the second week of lockdown for the hotspot zones of City of Sydney, Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside and Woollahra.

To supplement those government-led supports, Perrottet also called on commercial and residential landlords to work with tenants whose finances may be rattled by the lockdowns.

“If they are struggling during this period of time, including on a residential nature, please work with them,” Perrottet said. “As we said over the last 18 months, we’re all in this together.”

Australia’s big four banks have already signaled they will offer some concessions to borrowers caught up in the latest restrictions.

News of the state government’s latest business supports came after Berejiklian revealed 19 new locally-acquired cases in the state.

The additions mean 149 cases have been detected in the community since June 16, with 141 of them linked to the Bondi cluster.