Businesses across the Northern Beaches have been severely wounded by the recent COVID-19 outbreak and associated lockdowns, as our story on our local kebab trade highlighted recently.
Having already lost out on a significant amount of summer trading with the stay-at-home orders, many businesses across multiple industries, though chiefly hospitality, fitness and beauty, may not see out 2021.
So what help is at hand?
While there have been unprecedented financial packages from federal government throughout the year, (and Beaches residents received over $100 million in JobKeeper payments in October and November according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg), no additional support will be provided following the ‘Avalon cluster’ shut down, a recent letter from Mr Frydenberg to MP Zali Steggall has revealed.
JobKeeper recently dropped to $1,000 a fortnight for full-time workers and $650 for part-timers. Ms Steggall’s request for new support measures, including a return to the $1,500 a fortnight subsidy for hot spots such as the Beaches has been dismissed. This issue was covered in more detail by the Sydney Morning Herald today.
All hope is not lost
While no further federal help is at hand, there are support packages being worked on at the state level. A number of zoom meetings were held between local chambers of commerce and the state government – and in fact with the treasurer and small business ministers directly – on Saturday to discuss what help was needed and would be considered.
Manly Chamber president Charlotte Rimmer informed members today that a number potential solutions were discussed to encompass Manly and the whole of the Northern Beaches. Ms Rimmer said items for discussion included cash grants across a range of industries, rent relief, PAYG cash flow boosts, regional marketing, extending insolvency protection, and fast tracking Dine and Discover vouchers while allowing them to apply other affected industries such as beauty and fitness.
“The Manly Business Chamber has been working very hard with both the Manly MP James Griffin and the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perottet and Minister for Small Business Damien Tudehope to work through support packages for local businesses affected by the recent lockdown. The Chamber is also working with Northern Beaches Council and Mayor Michael Regan – both state and local government have been extremely engaged and very supportive and we hope to see some further support announced,” Ms Rimmer said.
Cr Regan wrote to the Premier Gladys Berejiklian about his concerns for the region’s businesses last week as well as to reiterate what local government already had underway (you can read it here), but we understand he was not invited to the round table discussions on the weekend.
Meanwhile a number of Liberal and Independent councillors have signalled their dissatisfaction with being left out of the process and have called for an extraordinary meeting of council, likely held next Tuesday, to discuss some of their own ideas to help the business community.
Council launches Business support service
This evening (5 January), Northern Beaches Council launched a new Business Support Service to provide information and advice to the local business community.
“Yesterday it was a relief to be able to reopen many of our services and facilities with restrictions eased in the southern part of the region. All our thoughts are with those in the northern zone who are still in lockdown until this Saturday, 9 January”, the Mayor said.
“This was an idea the local chambers put forward. Warringah has been pushing for a service like this and I’m pleased to see it come to fruition just when local businesses need it most.”
The support service is a single point of contact to “provide advice, support and ensure no matter what your question, we will do all we can to get you the best and quickest information. We will ensure you always speak to the Council Business Liaison Officer,” it states on Council’s website.
“It’s more important than ever to show our local business community that they’re not alone.”
“Businesses can use this service to find the latest updates about support and services, get advice and can sign up for business-specific email updates.”
You can call them on 1300 434 434 or book an appointment online.
Corso a hub with hope in its heart
While many of our small business owners have well-bitten nails already this year, it was delightful to spy a new shop pop up in Manly this week.
We spoke with co-owner of Manly’s new Little Shop of Waffles, Irene Zalami today to ask her about why she and three other local women decided to launch Sydney’s first “bubble waffle” house.
“We had a lockdown launch,” she mumbled in good humour under her now-mandated mask.
Opening on Darley Road along the Corso in Manly, Little Shop of Waffles sells this Hong Kong street food with an Aussie-European twist. Banana bread waffles, with gelato, anyone?
Hopefully the future of business across the Beaches will look a little sweeter soon.