Coast businesses hold their breath as JobKeeper ends

There is a degree of nervousness across the Central Coast as more than 5,000 local businesses face the repercussions of the end of JobKeeper on March 28, says Business NSW Regional Director Paula Martin.

“Whilst all towns across the region utilised the stimulus package, there were areas with heavier dependencies on it like Tuggerah, Wyong, The Entrance and the Peninsula who may be up for some challenging times in the next few months,” Martin said.

“Tourism, events and the arts businesses are the most affected but there are also businesses we don’t think of like racing clubs through to pest control businesses which have done it tough.

“The recent flooding events have showed us yet again how fragile the business community is and towns reliant on visitor trade have been hit yet again with uncertainty which is why we are encouraging Easter holiday visitors not to cancel their plans.

“The recently launched Dine and Discover voucher scheme is an ideal way to show your support as well as help our small businesses get through the quieter months of the year.”

While many businesses in the region may have to face the reality of letting staff go as the supplement ends, another aspect of concern is the flow-on effect which could be felt by other businesses, as clients continue to battle the effects of COVID-19 without the ongoing support of JobKeeper payments.

One such business is Central Coast Timber Pest Reports.

Owner Keith Andrews said he was anticipating a temporary lull in business.

“We have found that whenever money gets tight, we go quiet,” Andrews said.

During past periods of economic difficulty, Andrews said his business had experienced a 20 per cent drop.

“It happens when people don’t have the money to spend on essentials and there is usually a 4-5 week period before things start to pick up again,” he said.

Despite appeals from some quarters for a continuation of JobKeeper, the Federal Government says it has achieved its objectives of supporting businesses and saving jobs, preserving employment relationships and delivering much needed income support across the economy.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said JobKeeper was an economic lifeline which helped keep around a million businesses in business and 3.8 million Australians in a job at the height of the pandemic.

“The RBA estimated that JobKeeper saved at least 700,000 jobs,” Frydenberg said.

“When JobKeeper was announced on March 30, 2020, Australia was standing on the edge of an economic abyss.

“We were all witness to the confronting scenes of tens thousands of our fellow Australians queuing up outside Centrelink as the economic impact was felt from health restriction being imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“Following the announcement of JobKeeper, consumer confidence recorded its largest weekly gain on record and went on to increase for nine consecutive weeks.

On July 21, 2020, the Morrison Government extended the temporary JobKeeper payment for an additional six months from September until March with two tiers of payment to account for full and part time workers.

“While JobKeeper comes to an end, the Government’s economic support does not, with around $100B of our $251B in unprecedented economic support still to flow,” Frydenberg said.

“As we move to the next stage of the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan, private sector activity will continue to be boosted through a number of measures including tax cuts, business investment incentives, more skills and training places, new infrastructure projects and targeted support like the $1.2B aviation and tourism package.”

Terry Collins