Prime Minister Scott Morrison has *finally* unveiled a new disaster relief package amidst ever-increasing COVID-19 cases in NSW, including a $600 payment to workers who have lost a significant portion of their income due to the pandemic.
“The NSW outbreak has proved to be more severe, more dangerous, and it’s in the national interest that we now put in place an upgraded set of arrangements for cooperation with the states and territories within that will first be put in place here,” Morrison said in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
He said that the national cabinet agreed that while state and territory governments would provide support for business payments, the Commonwealth would provide direct income support for individuals.
Given the recent COVID-19 spike and Sydney’s lockdown, NSW will be the first state to access it. However, this financial assistance package will be available to any state or territory that experiences prolonged lockdowns moving forward. Phew! Now let’s hope no one else actually needs it.
The support announced today for NSW small and micro-businesses is welcome, and is exactly what should have been in place as soon as JobKeeper ended and JobSeeker was cut.
Victorians should rightly feel aggrieved that it took a Sydney outbreak to make it happen.
— Steve 'Doc' Baty (@docbaty) July 13, 2021
Right now workers who have lost more than 20 hours of work a week in the Sydney metropolitan area or Greater Sydney are able to receive a COVID-19 disaster relief payment of $500. In the upcoming fourth week of lockdown, those payments will increase to $600.
Those who have lost less than 20 hours of work a week but more than eight will receive $325 per week in the first three weeks of lockdown, and $375 per week after that. These payments will be recurring for every week that we are in lockdown from the fourth week onwards.
The disaster relief payments are for “hot spot” areas only – which the Federal government currently classes as Greater Sydney. Don’t worry though – the NSW government will cover the cost of extending that payment so workers across the state can also access the payment if they fulfil the criteria.
The payments are designed as an alternative to the government restarting JobKeeper in Sydney, which they’ve been pressured to do since the second wave of COVID cases began.
The disaster payment announced for workers in NSWs is $150 less per week than JobKeeper 12 months ago. It doesn’t guarantee that workers keep their jobs. We know what works why won’t they just do it.
— Michele O'Neil (@MicheleONeilAU) July 13, 2021
The NSW government also reinstated an eviction moratorium (aka a temporary hold on evictions) for tenants who have lost at least a fifth of their work. They’re offering rebates to landlords who help ease rental stress on affected tenants.
On top of all that, there will also be financial assistance for businesses, with up to $10,000 in cash flow boosts.
Businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 will be able to claim $1,500 fortnightly throughout the lockdown if they had reduced turnover. If the business makes up to $50 million a year, and shows they’ve had a 30 per cent fall in their turnover, they’re eligible for payments of $10,000.
The payments can be made to a maximum of 40 percent of the businesses payroll – but they have to show they aren’t laying off staff though, since a huge reason these payments exist is to keep jobs.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said all these new payments would give people the confidence to stay at home.
“What this does is give us peace of mind, and a breather for everybody in that when you provide that economic support for individuals and businesses, it gives us the freedom to do what we need on the health side,” Berejiklian said.
The Premier will be providing an update on the extension of the Sydney lockdown tomorrow – but it’s looking likely that it’ll be extended.