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Question and Answer Tracking Details

6028 - ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Greenwich, Alex to the Treasurer representing the Minister for Finance and Small Business
ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

With regard to small businesses in the CBD which continue to lose significant business as a result of work from home policies in adjacent towers and which relied on JobKeeper to stay afloat, what action will be taken to introduce protections against loss of security bonds or financial guarantees for those businesses that decide to close?

Answer -
ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

This response was updated with additional information on 14 July 2021.

 

The support package announced on 13 July 2021 includes a specific provision requiring commercial and retail landlords to attempt mediation before recovering a security bond, or locking out or evicting a tenant impacted by the COVID-19 Public Health Order.

Commercial and retail landlords liable for land tax will be eligible for a land tax concession to the value of rent reductions provided to impacted tenants up to 100% of 2021 land tax liability.

The support package also includes these supports for impacted small businesses:

  • An extension to the previously announced business grants program, providing eligible businesses with wages below $10 million grants between $7,500 and $15,000 to cover the first three-weeks of restrictions.
  • An additional scheme to provide cashflow support to businesses with employing businesses receiving fortnightly payments of up to 30% of payroll, to a maximum of $10,000 per week (on the basis that they maintain employee headcount), and non-employing businesses up to $1,000 per week.
  • Payroll tax waivers of 25 per cent for businesses with Australian wages of between $1.2 million and $10 million that have experienced a 30 per cent decline in turnover, as well as payroll tax deferrals and interest free repayment plans.
  • A new grants program for micro businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 which experience a decline in turnover of 30 per cent. These businesses will be eligible for a $1500 payment per fortnight of restrictions.

Earlier supports

Small businesses impacted by COVID-19 had protections under the Retail and Other Commercial Leases Regulation, which put in place temporary measures to share the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic between commercial landlords and tenants. 

While the prescribed period of the Regulation ended for all tenants on 28 March 2021, the Government amended the Retail Leases Act so that landlords cannot take actions against eligible tenants relating to a breach of the lease that occurred during the prescribed period, unless they have renegotiated rent and attempted mediation.

The Small Business Commission’s Mediation Services team can support tenants and landlords to resolve disputes in a cost-effective and non-adversarial way, regardless of whether the Regulation applies, including disputes about security binds and financial guarantees. Any application for mediation through the Small Business Commission will be assigned a case manager and treated as a high priority.

Encouraging people to return to the CBD

The NSW government has been committed to encouraging people to return to the CBD whenever it is safe to do so, and has invested in a broad range of CBD and Greater Sydney initiatives, including:

  • Funding a CBD revitalisation program to re-ignite Sydney’s economy and boost jobs and foot traffic in the CBD. Following an initial $20m partnership with City of Sydney after the NSW Government’s Summer Summit in September 2020, a further $20 million supplement for CBD revitalisation was announced during a second summit, in April 2021. This includes support for large events such as Sydney Solstice, activations in the Rocks and Darling Harbour, and grants for musicians and live performance.
  • $20m for up to 200,000 $100 CBD accommodation vouchers. Business registration has opened, however, the pilot is currently paused due to public health orders. Hotels and accommodation providers of all sizes in the CBD are able to apply. 
  • Introduction of a new $50 million CBD Friday voucher stimulus program that will offer NSW residents $100 worth of vouchers for use towards dining and entertainment experiences in the Sydney CBD on Fridays.
  • Live Music Support package, administered by Destination NSW in consultation with Create NSW and the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner which saw $21m paid out to venues in June 2021, including 46 venues in the City of Sydney.
  • $5.5m Business Events and Tourism Industry support package, including a Sydney Events package to encourage businesses events.
  • Treasury continues to follow NSW Health advice in respect of its employees’ working arrangements. When required, Treasury has issued work-from-home directives as pursuant to Public Health Orders. Outside of this, Treasury has introduced a Hybrid Working Model which reflects the final phase of its Return to Office plan. Currently, Treasury staff must work from home as required under the current stay-at-home orders.

Recent restrictions – Initial support package

In addition to the initial grants package (now replaced by extended grants) announced in response to the recent COVID-19 restrictions, the NSW Government also:

  • Extended the Dine & Discover program for a further month until 31 August 2021 to allow people more time to use their vouchers. Every adult in NSW is eligible for four $25 vouchers worth $100 in total, to spend across over 14,000 participating businesses.
  • Allowed Dine vouchers to be redeemed on takeaway from a business registered for the Dine component of Dine & Discover, with pick up permitted but delivery direct to the home by the restaurant or café recommended where possible.
  • Appropriate measures to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19, are under active consideration, as they have been and will be throughout the course of the pandemic.

Question asked on 9 June 2021 (session 57-1) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 114
Answer received on 13 July 2021 and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 119