Mixed reactions to small business grants

Daniel Mookhey MLC is calling for more small business help.

Business NSW Central Coast has welcomed a $750M fund set up by the State Government to provide grants for small and micro businesses impacted by the coronavirus, but the Opposition says that the Government can do more.

Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin, said the fund, announced in the Premier’s second stimulus package on March 16, would see eligible businesses with fewer than 20 employees able to apply for a grant of up to $10,000.
“This is another initiative from the NSW Government which is trying to support businesses and their employees as best they can through these unparalleled times,” Martin said.
“While previous announcements from the NSW Government have centred around concessions for those businesses that are large enough to pay Payroll Tax, this latest fund is aimed at small ‘mum and dad’ businesses with a couple of employees who may have had to close or vastly reduce their operating hours as the pandemic took hold.
“This latest initiative is particularly important for the survival of smaller businesses on the Central Coast and has been something that Business NSW has been championing since the start of the crisis.
“We were concerned that this important cohort of businesses was falling through the cracks and missing out on the various types of government support packages.
“This grant, together with the Job Keeper program announced by the Prime Minister on March 29, might be enough to keep their doors open and keep their staff in work.
“What is also vital is that these businesses will be permitted to use a portion of this grant to receive proper financial advice, because SMEs are struggling to make sense of all of the State and Federal Government support packages, and the business environment is rapidly changing.
“It’s important that small businesses seek the advice of professionals who can advise on the specifics of their particular business, including its industry type, location, demographics and customer base.
“What has been very clear is that employers hold on to their staff for as long as they can, and laying them off has been, and will remain, the absolute last resort.
“Keeping the doors open and staff employed will put businesses in NSW in the best possible position to resume normal trading as soon as the all clear is given by health authorities and the Government, and this is vital for rebuilding our economy as quickly as possible after the crisis passes.
Martin said many Central Coast businesses were not trading.
“Sole traders are in a world of pain and small and micro businesses who do not operate in an essential services environment are tracking backwards or closing to meet the federal and state government legislated requirements,” she said.
“These requirements, whilst extreme in some points, are essential to containing this virus and limiting the risk to everyone.
“There is some relief for these businesses now with this new grant fund.”
But Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business, Daniel Mookhey, says the Berejiklian Government can do more to help small businesses survive COVID-19.
“Any help for small business is welcome, but other states like Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland have had a comprehensive small business survival package in the marketplace
for weeks,” Mookhey said.
“Queensland is offering small businesses survival loans of up to $250,000; Western Australia is offering small businesses rent relief payments; and Victoria is offering small businesses payroll tax refunds.
“New South Wales can do more than a $10,000 grant scheme for struggling small businesses, and it can act much much faster.”
Mookhey repeated Labor’s call for another economic survival package which includes: guaranteeing the jobs of the tens of thousands of casuals working for the NSW Government; establishing a comprehensive one-off fund to hire the sudden unemployed and casuals so they can assist with the safe delivery of assistance and support to essential services and help the vulnerable; grants and loans to small and medium-sized businesses; grants and loans for businesses to adjust or re-direct manufacturing for medical, emergency and related supplies required for the COVID-19 crisis; additional significant funding for community organisations to ensure that the most vulnerable can continue to access food, shelter and support; and, creation of a local government fund partnership, post-COVID, to support local jobs through local shovel-ready infrastructure projects.

Media releases, Apr 3
Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin
Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business, Daniel Mookhey