The NSW state government needs to do more to help businesses facing closure, says the Night Time Industries Association.
Businesses across NSW are struggling, with the state’s indefinite lockdown either forcing them to close entirely or reducing them to unprofitable takeaway and delivery options. Larger businesses in the industry are losing up to a whopping $1.2 million every week. With the end of lockdown uncertain, many don’t know how much longer they can survive.
There are some grants available for struggling artists, small and medium sized businesses and sole traders, but industry body the Night Time Industries Association says more help is needed to avoid a catastrophe in the hospitality, arts and culture sector.
The NTIA is urging the NSW government to consider seven key measures to save the industries that make Sydney a vibrant, world-class city. In a letter sent to premier Gladys Berejiklian, treasurer Dominic Perrottet and other MPs early last week, the NTIA asked the state government to:
- Reinstate JobKeeper for employees, including work visa holders – to enable employers to pay and retain staff on flexible working arrangements during lockdown, and restore working hours during recovery phase.
- Reinstate the rent moratorium – to enable businesses to negotiate with landlords as they face restricted trading during lockdown.
- Reinstate delayed payment schemes for federal and state taxes – including payroll tax and BAS payments, to assist cash flow and support businesses not currently generating revenue.
- Reinstate flexible work provisions under Schedule J of the Hospitality Award to allow employers and employees to negotiate flexible work arrangements, including work hours, locations and duties performed.
- Lower the $75,000 minimum earning threshold for the NSW government COVID-19 Support Grant – to provide relief to more small businesses and sole traders, including many in the performance sector such as musicians, artists and other performers.
- Introduce a licensed venue grant scheme, for all licensed venues – similar to that offered in Victoria in 2020, to provide scalable support to venues based on their patron capacity, annual turnover, and venue location.
- Develop a clear roadmap to reopening and recovery – working with industry to devise a plan to allow businesses the confidence to navigate restrictions and reopen successfully.
“The cash burn for businesses is crippling and clearly not sustainable, nor does it aid recovery efforts,” says NTIA Chair Justine Baker. ”Our members report that small hospitality and performance businesses are burning up to $25,000 per week, and larger businesses' losses range from $150,000 to $1.2 million per week.
Our members do not have businesses that can be turned on and off easily, nor quickly, and they are the first businesses to shut down and the last to reopen. We’re urgently calling on the NSW government to provide immediate support to our sectors as well as a roadmap for the future so that they don’t continue to operate blindly. The recent packages focus support at the small to medium sized businesses, the large employers have been completely forgotten. It's unacceptable to leave businesses behind.”
At the time of publication, the NTIA has drafted a second letter to the Premier, Treasurer and other key MPs, reiterating its requests for a clear roadmap for reopening, and reinstatement of the JobKeeper program and the flexible work provisions in Schedule J. The letter also calls for broadening the voucher schemes and amending the Afresco dining planning approvals process, as well as the introduction of a grants system focused on programming entertainment into hospitality venues.
In the meantime, some limited help is available now in the form of grants for businesses and sole traders. The NTIA has pulled together the following information about how to apply:
NSW Government Business Grant – COVID-19
If you've been impacted by the recent COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for a one-off grant of $7,500, $10,500 or $15,000 to cover general business costs. Apply here.
City of Sydney Business Support Grant – Night Time Diversification
If you're looking to program events, activities and initiatives at night (6pm to 6am), you may be eligible for up to $30,000 matched cash funding for a 1- or 2-year program. Apply here.
City of Sydney Business Support Grant – Live Music & Performance
If you're planning to make capital improvements to new or existing premises associated with live music, performance, rehearsal, recording, production or participation, you may be eligible for up to $30,000 matched cash funding. Apply here.
City of Sydney Festivals & Events Sponsorship – Village & Community
If you're putting on a festival or event that celebrates, develops and engages the city’s communities, you may be eligible for support up to $30,000 for a new festival/event. Funding for established festivals/events to be negotiated on consultation. Apply here.
Outdoor Dining Opportunities – Alfresco City
The City of Sydney are working with the NSW Government to help facilitate alfresco dining in the city with a fast-tracked and free application process. For more information on outdoor dining permits, including fees, go here.
The NTIA has also highlighted that the following relief is also open for individuals and businesses to access now:
Federal Relief for Citizens & Visa Holders
If you’re an individual who has lost income during the COVID-19 lockdowns, you may be eligible to claim the COVID-19 Disaster Payment – it’s available through Services Australia for both Australian citizens and visa holders. Apply here.
Banking Sector Relief
The Australian Banking Association has offered support for small businesses affected by COVID-19 lockdowns; their package includes up to 3-month repayment deferrals, refunds of merchant terminal fees for up to 3 months, and loan deferrals on a month-by-month basis. Apply here.
Application Support Resources
Sydney LGA operators: The City of Sydney’s Business Concierge Service is very helpful in navigating the support and programs available at all levels of government. They are available Monday 9-5pm on 02 9265 9333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about the city's specific funding, timing, eligibility and processes here.
NSW operators: The NSW Government has a support line for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Find out more here.