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NSW Rolls Out Business Lockdown Support As Retail Calls For Consistency

The NSW Government will defer payroll tax for employers in the state, as well as offer grants to small businesses that suffer a decline in turnover during Sydney’s COVID lockdown.

Announced this morning by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perottet, the measures include optional payroll tax deferrals for payments due in July, an extension of Dine & Discover vouchers, and a small business support grant of up to $10,000 for businesses and sole traders with an annual turnover of $75,000 that fall below the payroll tax threshold of $1,200,000 as at July 1 last year; these will be open to all areas of NSW, not just Greater Sydney.

According to Berejiklian, the move will support businesses and keep people in jobs during the pandemic.

“The current restrictions are in place to protect people and keep the community safe. Unfortunately businesses continue to incur costs such as rent, power and lost produce, and this will go some way to lessening that financial pain,” she said.

The small business grant – which businesses will be able to apply for through Service NSW later in July, provided they can show a decline in two-week turnover across a minimum two-week period following June 26. Businesses must be physically located and primarily operating in NSW, and have fewer than 20 full-time equivalent employees, to apply.

The Australian Retailers Association has welcomed the move, though CEO Paul Zahra noted that – with around $2 billion in losses expected for retailers during the lockdown – further measures would be needed if it extended beyond two weeks.

“Businesses – including many small businesses – are already bearing the cost of lockdown this year, with no safety net in place. It’s important we get cash into the hands of businesses as soon as possible and we need to ensure that support is targeted to those who need it most.

“Small businesses in the CBD are a significant ongoing concern. They were already dealing with Covid impacts before this latest outbreak, due to the lack of tourists and city office workers. Today’s financial hardship grants, payroll tax deferrals and an extension of the Dine & Discover program are a step in the right direction,” he said.

The ARA has also called for more consistency on lockdowns – especially as southeast Queensland enters a snap four-day lockdown – calling a lack of clarity “unnecessarily stressful” for retailers with national footprints.

“Businesses are at the mercy of the different state and territory leaders in terms of what defines essential and how they might respond to new Covid cases in the community. There’s no consistency and it leads to mass confusion for retailers and customers.

“We must have national harmonisation on what triggers a lockdown, and what is defined as essential and non-essential retail, and the only way we can achieve that is through agreement at National Cabinet,” said Zahra.

The new grants will be available for use in areas such as rent, utilities, and wages, for which no other government support is accessible.

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