July 14, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The federal and NSW governments announced additional financial support for businesses and individuals impacted by the lockdown of Greater Sydney yesterday, upping the combined financial commitment to $5.1 billion.

The support measures announced yesterday include increases to payments and grants already in place, as well as new initiatives to ease the financial stress of the ongoing lockdown throughout the state.

What is likely to be a bitter pill for the events industry to swallow is the announcement of a $75 million package specifically for the performing arts sector which is set to provide the kind of support which the events industry also needs.

The $75 million fund will be administered by Create NSW which has already flagged that it will be providing immediate support to performing arts organisations – including live music – who had performances scheduled to run during the lockdown period.

The NSW government press release also indicates there will be $26 million in support for the accommodation sector, but no details have been provided as to how that support will be delivered.

There are several elements of the increased financial support which are available to those in the events industry, however.

The federal government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment has been increased from $500 to $600 a week for individuals who have lost more than 20 hours of work per week due to the lockdown. For those who have lost between eight and 20 hours, the weekly payment has been increased from $325 to $375. Last week the government also removed the means test for these payments which had previously required those receiving it to have less than $10,000 in readily available cash.

Funding from the NSW government will make these payments available to those individuals across the state outside of the lockdown zone who have had their work hours impacted.

For businesses with a turnover between $75,000 and $50 million which have experienced a 30 percent or more decrease in that turnover, a new support measure will deliver payments of between $1,500 and $10,000 per week, based on payroll. These payments are also contingent on businesses retaining their current employee headcount. Sole traders will be eligible for payments of $1,000 per week.

The small business grants program announced by the NSW Government earlier in the lockdown will also provide larger one-off payments of between $7,500 and $15,000 to businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million.

In addition, a fund for micro businesses – those with turnovers between $30,000 and $75,000, which haven’t been covered by any support measures so far – has also been introduced. Micro businesses which have experienced at least a 30 percent decrease in turnover can apply for a payment of $1,500 per fortnight, with the payment to be backdated to the start of the lockdown.

Other measures include a two month payroll tax deferral for larger businesses and a total payroll tax waiver for the first quarter for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million who have experienced a 30 percent reduction in turnover as a result of the lockdown.

Support for residential and commercial tenants has also been provided in the form of financial incentives for landlords who grant rent reductions to tenants affected by the lockdown. Legislative changes will also place a short-term pause on residential evictions and make it more difficult for landlords to evict commercial tenants.

The lockdown is expected to be extended today with guesses varying widely as to the eventual length of the lockdown – according to the ABC, one epidemiologist puts it the extension at three to four weeks, while EY’s chief economist estimates it’ll be another 10 weeks and the ABC’s Norman Swan, citing modelling from the Burnett Institute, says restrictions could last until Christmas under the current measures which he says do not amount to a “proper lockdown”.