Northern Beaches Council held a meeting to help tradies and businesses affected by the lockdown.

The online meeting held yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, 21 July) with Northern Beaches business owners was joined by Pittwater MP and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes along with Anthony D’Cruz from Service NSW and Michael Gadiel from NSW Treasury.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan asked over 100 assembled business owners to take the opportunity to ask questions of the experts from the NSW Government. Minister Stokes committed to take concerns raised at the meeting directly to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet for consideration at a crisis cabinet meeting this morning.

Questions from business owners revealed confusion around the support options, especially the difference between grants available.

Executive Director of Economic Strategy at NSW Treasury, Michael Gadiel, explained the key grant payments as:

  • The 2021 COVID-19 business grant of up to $15k that applies for loss of revenue from 26 June to 17 July for businesses with turnover of at least $75k and revenue loss of at least 30 percent
  • The JobSaver fortnightly payment effective from 18 July for businesses with turnover of at least $75k and revenue loss of at least 30 percent that commit to retain staff
  • The 2021 COVID-19 micro-business fortnightly payment for smaller businesses such as sole traders with revenues between $30k and $75k and revenue decline of at least 30 percent

While other rebates and payroll tax concessions would also apply, Mr Gadiel explained that these three payments formed the backbone of the support available to businesses.

Michael Gadiel

Michael Gadiel

“The one I would point most people to is JobSaver. There are expressions of interest being taken for that now on the Service NSW website. Applications are expected to open on 26 July.

“That program applies from 18 July, which coincides with the start of orders affecting the construction industry. That is the one that aligns with the impact on the construction industry.

“The payments that go to businesses are for businesses with employees, 40 percent of weekly payroll paid weekly in arrears, with backdated payments to 18 July. The minimum payment to any business would be $1,500 per week and the maximum payment would be $10k per week. For businesses that don’t have employees, if you are a sole trader, you would receive $1,000 per week.

“There are other grant programs. There is the business grant program that opened on the 26 June and closed on 17 July. If your business was impacted in that earlier period of the shutdown, that is available to you.

“But if you are caught up in this current set of orders, then I would point you to the JobSaver program. A condition of receiving this grant is you undertake to maintain your employee headcount. We are trying to keep employees and employers together but it is possible to receive the grant and reduce hours if there is no work available, even potentially to zero.

“For individuals, there is the COVID-19 disaster payment available from the Commonwealth. If you lose 20 or more hours per week you are entitled to payments of $600 per week. If you lose between 8-20 hours a week you are entitled to payments of $375 per week. Those applications can be made through the Services Australia website.

“For businesses with an annual turnover of less than $75k there is a micro-business grant program available. There must be a 30 percent revenue decline over a two week period. That grant will pay $750 per week, so $150 per week more than you would receive under the COVID-19 disaster payment.

“There are two streams. There is the COVID-19 disaster payment available from the Commonwealth to individuals, applications are open now. Or there is the NSW Business Grant Program. If you are a sole trader, one thing worth knowing is you can’t go for both. You have to decide which one you want,” said Mr Gadiel.

Rob Stokes

Both Mr Gadiel and Minister Stokes expressed a desire for a rapid return to work for the construction industry but Minister Stokes shut down a suggestion for a ‘Northern Beaches bubble’ to allow tradies to get back to work.

“Sadly, the figures today are we have 6 active cases in the Local Government Area and 23 now in Northern Sydney. So the short answer is no,” said Minister Stokes.

Business owners sought clarification about maintaining headcount and payroll to be eligible for the JobSaver program. According to Mr Gadiel, as long as headcount was not reduced, employees could be effectively stood down and the money used for other expenses to keep the business afloat.

“The business might stand down its workforce and use the JobSaver payments to cover costs that arise. The employees themselves would be able to access the COVID-19 disaster payment from the Commonwealth,” said Mr Gadiel.

Businesses that could not compare revenues to 2019 were told to call Service NSW, as they would not be able to complete the form online, but an alternate comparison method would be found to help them.

Mayor Michael Regan said the feedback following the session from tradies and business owners was positive.

Michael Regan

Michael Regan

“It was well received. It cleared up a lot of things for many people. Michael from Treasury was a hit and everyone was very appreciative of his efforts.

“The video will be up later this morning for people to share and view and I encourage them to check it out as its likely your questions were answered. One bloke texted me and said thanks to that session, he is able to now better support his staff. That’s a great outcome,” said Mayor Regan.

Businesses seeking to apply for assistance were advised to visit the Service NSW website.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate