The federal government has announced it will up disaster relief payments by between $50 and $100, meaning eligible individuals will now be offered $375 or $600 per week for lost work as a direct result of the lockdown.
Although the increase comes in response to the situation in NSW, the Prime Minister confirmed that like all pandemic support, this new sum will be available to all jurisdictions that find themselves in the same predicament: extended lockdown.
These payments will be available across NSW for the duration of the lockdown.
As for businesses, a job-saving measure will be funded in conjunction with the NSW government, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledging a direct payment to help boost cash flow and ensure employers don’t have to lay off staff during this lockdown.
The cash-boost grants are similar to the $20,000 to $100,000 payments offered to small and medium businesses in March last year to help employers fund staff and bills.
“Business NSW has been working closely with both the state and federal governments over the past week on this package, particularly around what more could be done for business owners to retain their employees, and it’s great to see this package rolled out that will support the doors staying open and staff keeping their jobs,” said Business NSW chief executive Daniel Hunter, commenting in response to the support measures made.
“What is crucial now is for the support money to start flowing as quickly as possible — the government has assured business applications will open later this month, with the money to be paid days after that.”
Just last week, as the lockdown in NSW was extended, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that he had been approached by NSW with a request for JobKeeper to be reinstated, which he said was answered with a firm “no”.
“The Treasurer of New South Wales has written to me asking for the reinstatement of JobKeeper,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “We are not bringing back JobKeeper.
“That was an emergency support payment that we introduced at the height of the pandemic. We then extended it beyond the initial six months to 12 months.”
However, given the severity of the situation in Sydney, the federal government appears to have reconsidered its approach, carving out extra funds to help protect both businesses and their employees.
It was earlier reported that NSW had drawn up a $4 billion business support plan, which it tabled when the government signalled it was stepping up aid.
The federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy ended at the end of March. But while the government has steadfastly rejected calls to extend it, new data from Business NSW has revealed that as many as one in five businesses only have enough cash flow to get them through the next month of operations, with an extended lockdown expected to see many businesses close down for good.
More to come.