The government’s coined a lot of new schemes throughout the pandemic. We’ve had JobSeeker, JobKeeper, JobTrainer and now, amid the extended lockdown in Greater Sydney, we have JobSaver. Meanwhile, disaster payments have also been expanded in NSW. It’s a lot to take in, we know.

Basically, JobSaver is like a watered-down version of JobKeeper to help businesses stay afloat during lockdown. But it will also be joined by an expanded disaster payments scheme which goes directly to Sydneysiders who are temporarily out of work.

“The way we are structuring these supports to people, whether it’s the individual payments or the business support payments, is to ensure that those businesses and those individuals can get through as whole as possible through these lockdowns so on the other side our economy can roar back on the other side,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Wednesday.

It’s a mishmash of different policies and it’s pretty reminiscent of this time last year. Just don’t use the words JobKeeper or JobSeeker, or else the government will get the shits for some reason.

Here’s what you need to know about the changes.

What’s happening with COVID disaster payments?

The existing disaster payments scheme for people who’ve lost work due to lockdown has been increased from a maximum of $600 per week to $750 per week, which is incidentally the same rate as what JobKeeper started out as.

For part time workers who’ve lost fewer than 20 hours of work, the maximum claim will rise from $375 per week to $450 per week.

Previously these disaster payments were only available to people who were out of work but who weren’t already receiving Centrelink payments. But that left out plenty of people who lost work (and thus a significant portion income) even though they were receiving some other allowance.

Now even people on Centrelink who lost work will finally get up to $200 per week if they lose more than eight hours of work

“If you are out of work or have reduced hours, please do not worry, you will get that weekly payment,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday morning.

“The additional category of people to get assistance at those on some kind of payment from [Centrelink] but not enough to keep them going so that gap will also be close.

“People in existing allowances, will also get a top up to make sure you keep going during the next month.”

So far, almost half a million people in NSW have claimed disaster payments. You can apply for the disaster payments here.

What on Earth is JobSaver?

JobSaver is the scheme to help businesses in NSW bide their time until lockdown is over.

The federal government had already made clear that bringing back JobKeeper was off the table, so the NSW government managed to negotiate this new JobSaver scheme instead.

Now businesses earning between $75,000 and $250 million which saw a revenue decline of 30% or more will be eligible for the JobSaver payments, which are intended to help keep workers on the books. Sound familiar?

“We know that keeping workers in jobs is critical, which is why we’ve fought hard to secure additional support to help businesses hold onto their staff,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.  

The payments will be equal to 40% of their weekly NSW payroll expenses or, for small businesses with no employees (i.e. sole traders), up to $1,000 per week. The payments will be backdated to July 18.

Business owners in NSW can apply for JobSaver here.

Both of these schemes are a bit confusing and needlessly convoluted. It would’ve been so much easier to bring back last year’s schemes or distribute this assistance through Centrelink but hey, at least Sydneysiders can finally get some financial relief through this hellish lockdown.

Image: Getty Images / Lisa Maree Williams