UPDATED: One off payments of between $3,000-$5,000 – known as ‘hardship grants’ – were announced for lockdown-affected Northern Beaches businesses on Thursday 4 February.
The announcement was made outside Fusion Point cafe in Manly, with some political heavy weights attending: Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope, and our local MPs James Griffin, Brad Hazzard and Rob Stokes.
So what’s on offer as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions over the Christmas period?
For the most part – one off cash payments.
“We know some businesses have been hit harder than others, which is why we are taking a tiered approach to these grants,” Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope (pictured front and centre below) said.
“The first tier of $3,000 is for small businesses that have suffered at least a 30 per cent decline in turnover due to the Northern Beaches lockdown.
“The second tier of $5,000 is for small businesses that have suffered at least a 50 per cent decline in turnover.”
“The grants are designed to cover unavoidable costs for which no other government backing is available such as utilities, rent, financial or legal advice and other activities to support the operation of a business.”
Mr Damian Tudehope also said at the conference that no distinction between the northern and southern zones would be made in providing the assistance, despite business in the north having to close down for longer.
The announcement follows an investigation by Small Business Commissioner Chris Lamont, which led to a so-far not publicly released report into recommended relief measures.
Mr Lamont spent over a week visiting small business owners across the region at the start of 2021 to hear how the lockdowns had impacted their business and what help was required. The lower Northern Beaches came out of lockdown on 2 January, the upper region on 9 January, after a blanket shutdown in mid-December to stop further spread from a COVID-19 outbreak in the Avalon region.
The measures are significant as they are likely to set a precedent for any other regions which may endure lockdowns in the future due to COVID-19.
Michael Malouf, the owner of Fusion Point Cafe which hosted Thursday’s press conference, said he welcomed the initiatives and felt business owners should be “grateful for any help”. “I think really no one has to give you anything. All of this comes with gratitude. In some ways it helps. It will never fully compensate for our real losses but it’s better than nothing and it makes us feel seen.”
The treasurer admitted during the conference it was not a “panacea” or a cure-all, but a gesture of assistance for hard costs such as rent or other fixed expenses that might have been unavoidable over that period.
In considering the Commissioner’s report, the Government will be implementing the following measures in addition to the $3,000 and $5,000 grants:
- Promotion for the Northern Beaches: to promote local attractions and welcome visitors to the community.
- Industry-specific information on public health restrictions: to assist small businesses impacted by Public Health Orders to better understand their obligations.
- Improved access to existing support: including mental health resources for small business owners on the SafeWork website, Business Connect, and the Small Business Commission’s mediation services team.
- Dine & Discover: Pilot of the program on the Northern Beaches
Manly Business Chamber President Charlotte Rimmer said the decision follows a lot of hard lobbying from local chambers and MPs.
“The restrictions we went under at a crucial time of year will have long standing impact, this quick cash injection will ease the pain short term. Support through marketing and Dine and Discover will help us get back on our feet.”
Member for Manly James Griffin said he expected the package to help cushion the impacts of the lockdown.
“Businesses in Manly would normally have welcomed tens of thousands of people from right across NSW over the Christmas and New Year period. The restrictions placed our local businesses under enormous pressure following what was a very difficult 2020,” he said.
Mr Griffin said there would be a promotional campaign called Back the Beaches rolled out with Council and the local chambers soon to further assist a revival of the region.
More information on the grants and how to apply will be made available on the Service NSW website in the coming weeks and we will share through our various channels.
Are you eligible?
Below are the details we have so far on who will be eligible for the one off payment:
Tier One: $3,000 grant
Small businesses and not-for-profits that were subject to the Public Health (COVID-19 Northern Beaches) Order 2020 (‘the Northern Beaches Public Health Order’) will be eligible for a one-off $3,000 Northern Beaches Hardship Grant if they:
- Are a non-employing business or a business with fewer than 20 full-time equivalent staff (FTE)
- Have an Australian Business Number (ABN) registered in, or they can demonstrate they are physically located and primarily operating in the Northern Beaches Local Government Area (LGA)
- Experienced a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to the Northern Beaches Public Health Order over a minimum two-week period from 19 December 2020 to 10 February 2021 compared to the same time last year
- Have total Australian wages below the NSW Government 2020-21 payroll tax threshold of $1,200,000 as at 1 July 2020
- Have an annual turnover of more than $75,000 as at 1 March 2020; and
- Had unavoidable business costs during the Northern Beaches lockdown (e.g rent), for which there is no other government support available.
Tier Two: $5,000 grant
Small businesses and not-for-profits that were subject to the Public Health (COVID-19 Northern Beaches) Order 2020 (‘the Northern Beaches Public Health Order’) will be eligible for a one-off $5,000 Northern Beaches Hardship Grant if they meet all the eligibility criteria for the $3,000 (tier one) grant, except they must:
- Have experienced a decline in turnover of at least 50 per cent due to the Northern Beaches Public Health Order over a minimum two-week period from 19 December 2020 to 10 February 2021 compared to the same time last year.