The federal government has prepared a new economic support package for workers and businesses impacted by extended coronavirus lockdowns.
The new measures have been prompted by New South Wales’ worsening outbreak, but will be available for all states and territories forced to lock down over an ongoing period.
In addition to the federal government’s measures, the New South Wales state government has also announced new economic supports for businesses and a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions.
Here are the key measures:
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
The existing COVID-19 Disaster Payment, introduced during Melbourne’s May coronavirus lockdown, will be expanded and increased.
Regions classified as a Commonwealth government-declared hotspot have been able to access a weekly payment of between $325 and $500.
Now from week four of a lockdown, that payment will be increased to $600 a week for workers who have lost 20 or more hours of work.
A weekly payment of $375 can be accessed for those who lost between eight and 20 hours of work.
Services Australia will administer the payments to workers regardless of their employment status as a casual or full-time.
“You don’t have to have lost your job,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, adding that the liquid asset means test requirement has been adjusted to facilitate access to the support. “It doesn’t matter who your employer is. If you have lost those hours, you can access that payment right now.”
Payments become accessible from 16 July for the initial four local government areas to go into lockdown in NSW – Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and the City of Sydney – and for the rest of the Greater Sydney region from 19 July.
The previous eligibility rules to access the payment remain in place.
Be an Australian resident or hold an eligible working visa. This includes temporary visa holders and international students with the right to work.
Older than 17 years old.
Not receiving existing income support payments, ABStudy or parental leave pay.
Not receiving the pandemic leave disaster payment (available for people who have been forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure).
If you are claiming for a period prior to the third week of lockdown, you must have liquid assets of more than $10,000. Liquid assets are readily available funds like cash or savings.
The payments will be made available through Services Australia, and Australian residents can claim through their myGov accounts linked to their Centrelink accounts.
Eligible visa holders must call 180 22 66 to file their claim while a multilingual phone service is available on 131 202 for in-language support.
Business support payment
A new business support payment will also be available to entities with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 percent decline in turnover due to the lockdown.
The program is modelled on the cash flow boost program made available last year.
To receive the payment, eligible businesses will be required to maintain their full-time, part-time and long-term casual staffing levels as of July 13.
Eligible entities, which includes not-for-profit organizations, will receive payments of between $1500 and $10,000 per week based on the level of their payroll.
For non-employing businesses, such as sole traders, the payment will be set at $1000 per week.
The payments will be made available on a fortnightly basis and businesses will can register their interest through Service NSW from 14 July.
The New South Wales state government has also announced an extension to its small business grant scheme, and will defer all payroll tax liabilities for the next two months.
Businesses with wages below $10 million can claim grants between $7,500 and $15,000 to cover the first three weeks of restrictions.
Businesses with a 30 percent decline in turnover, with wages between $1.2 million and $10 million will receive payroll tax waivers of 25 percent.
The arts sector will also receive a $75 million support package, with the accommodation sector to receive $26 million in support.
New moratoriums have been put in place on evictions across New South Wales.
For the next 60 days, there will be no evictions for workers who have had a reduction in income of at least 25 per cent.
Commercial and retail tenants have also been given protections, with no lockouts or evictions during this period of time.
Landlords will be required to attempt mediation before recovering bonds or evicting tenants impacted by the public health order.
Those who reduce rent will be compensated with either a grant of up to $1,500 or a land tax reduction.
Around $12 million of additional funding will also be provided for temporary accommodation for those at risk of experiencing homelessness.
Mental health support
The Commonwealth and NSW governments will also deliver a $17.35 million mental health support package for NSW.
The money has been spread between Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Headspace and Beyond Blue among other organisations.
Funding has also been set aside for mental health support for vulnerable and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The state government will also contribute $5.1 million to assist mental health services.
Additional reporting: AAP