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NSW just boosted its support for small businesses in lockdown. Here’s what you need to know

July 29, 2021

This article was published on Thursday, 28 July 2021. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, you can find the information you need on government support at Service NSW.

Earlier this month, the Federal and NSW governments announced a support package for businesses impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown. This included three payment types, the first of which – the COVID-19 business grant – was a one-off cash injection designed to offer small businesses fast access to funds that would help them pull through the first three weeks of stay-at-home restrictions.

While this support measure is available until September, the remaining two payments – JobSaver and the COVID-19 micro-business grant – intend to help small businesses survive the duration of the NSW lockdown. And on Wednesday 27 July, these payments were given a boost by the NSW government. Whether you’re a small business owner or an advisor, read on to learn more about these payment types, and whether they might be right for you or your clients.

Tell us more about JobSaver  

In the second wave of financial assistance for the NSW JobSaver scheme, small businesses can now receive between $1,500 to $10,000 (or the equivalent of 40 percent of your payroll) per fortnight to cover wage expenses while stay-at-home restrictions are in place. These payments will be backdated to 18 June in order to cover costs relating to the early impacts of lockdown.

The amount you receive will be determined by your most recent Business Activity Statement (BAS) provided to the ATO before 26 June 2021. To be eligible for JobSaver, you must:

  • Have an annual turnover of between $75,000 to $50 million.
  • Be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent across a minimum fortnightly period within the Greater Sydney lockdown period (which began 26 June) compared to the same period in 2019. To help you calculate this decline, Xero has created a COVID-19 Business Support tool. Learn more about it here.
  • Submit a letter from your registered accountant or BAS agent that verifies the drop in turnover.
  • Maintain your employee headcount as of 13 July. If this changes, you will need to let Service NSW know in order to keep receiving fortnightly payments.

The JobSaver payment can be used to cover general business costs. However, its primary use should be to retain your employees so that you’re well-placed to begin trading again once lockdown restrictions are lifted. It’s also worth noting that some of your employees could be eligible for a COVID-19 Disaster Payment even if you – as their employer – are receiving JobSaver.

I’m a sole trader. What do I need to know about the COVID-19 micro-business grant?

The COVID-19 micro-business grant is intended as a last resort for the smallest of businesses in NSW that cannot access any other government support. Micro-businesses, including sole traders, who use their company as a primary source of income could be eligible to receive $1,500 per fortnight while stay-at-home restrictions are in place. To qualify for this grant, you must:

  • Have an annual turnover of between $30,000 to $75,000.
  • Be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent across a minimum fortnightly period within the Greater Sydney lockdown period (which began 26 June) compared to the same period in 2019. Use Xero’s COVID-19 Business Support tool to help calculate this decline.
  • Submit a letter from your registered accountant or BAS agent that verifies the drop in turnover.

In some cases, non-employing businesses that aren’t eligible for this grant could instead receive a Commonwealth COVID-19 Disaster Payment. Head to Services Australia for more information on this support measure.

I’ve already received a COVID-19 business grant. Am I still eligible for another payment?

If you qualify for a COVID-19 business grant, chances are, you could be eligible for JobSaver too. Although, you’ll need to provide more information – like payroll expenses and employee headcount – to Service NSW.

For non-employing businesses that intend to apply for a micro-business grant, it’s unlikely your business would’ve qualified for other assistance earlier in July, as the turnover threshold ranged above $75,000.

What should I do next?

Head to the Service NSW website to make sure you meet the full eligibility criteria for either JobSaver or a COVID-19 micro-business grant. Remember, Xero’s COVID-19 Business Support tool can help you determine whether you or your small business clients are eligible for support.

Once you have all of your evidence ready – including proof of identity documents and a letter from your accountant or BAS agent (advisors, you can use this template here) – you’ll then be able to apply through your MyServiceNSW account before 18 October 2021. Those that qualify for JobSaver should expect to receive funds within five to 10 days after their application has been approved.

Is there anything else I should look out for when applying?

According to CPA Australia, if the Service NSW online application form is showing errors, it could be due to the following:

  • For those that intend to apply for a COVID-19 micro-business grant, the application will ask if your wages expenses are below $10 million. Even if you’re a non-employing business,  be sure to click ‘yes.’ Service NSW will identify this as correct.
  • Some small businesses and advisors are reporting an error message that relates to their bank account name. If you encounter this issue, simply shorten your entry in this field.

For more information on the types of support available, keep an eye on the Service NSW website. In the meantime, head to Xero’s Business continuity hub for more resources and guidance on how to support your business during this challenging period.

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