The NSW Government is shoring up its support of struggling small and medium businesses across the state that have been hardest hit by the Omicron wave with a new financial package worth $1 billion.
Among the initiatives announced over the weekend, eligible businesses will receive financial support to buy rapid antigen tests (RATs) for employees, along with a direct cash injection directed at supporting payrolls to assist businesses to keep their workers employed.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says the program will also extend the Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant to March 13 and deliver additional funding for the performing arts sector. The move comes as COVID-19 case numbers in NSW continue to fall.
“This targeted package provides support for businesses who experienced cashflow issues and the immediate economic impacts of the Omicron outbreak,” says Perrottet.
“NSW is tracking better than expected and confidence is returning. And as we did with earlier recoveries, we will come through this recent challenge stronger than ever.
“We’ve got the backs of businesses, as we have throughout this entire pandemic.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole says the support package provides a state-wide response to the Omicron wave, targeting those businesses that need it the most.
“Our regions have felt the impacts of Omicron, and it’s critical we give them a helping hand to recover and get local economies humming again,” he says.
The Small Business Support Program has been aimed at businesses with annual turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million that have experienced a fall of at least 40 per cent in turnover in January and are likely to be similarly affected in February. The support will cover up to 20 per cent of the weekly payroll of an eligible business.
The program will deliver a lump-sum payment of the weekly payroll with a minimum payment of $500 per week and a maximum payment of $5,000 per week.
Meanwhile, the government is increasing the rebate on existing small business fees, charges and RAT by 50 per cent from the current $2,000 limit to $3,000. Businesses with employees will be able to use the rebate to obtain RATs for testing workers.
The government says the aim is to support worker availability by reducing costs to small businesses and enabling healthy staff who have been exposed to COVID-19, but test negative, to return to work.
“We know that the over 800,000 small businesses in NSW are the lifeblood of local communities and that many of these businesses experienced challenges due to the Omicron wave of the pandemic,” says NSW Small Business Minister Eleni Petinos.
“This package will help relieve some of the costs of small business including keeping workers safe, assist with cash flow and support small businesses to continue trading.”
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