NSW government has announced a new assistance scheme to help thousands of small businesses in NSW ride out the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Support Fund will receive $750m from the State government to help provide cash flow relief to eligible businesses in the form of grants of up to $10,000.

The model for the Small Business Support Fund is based on the scheme implemented during the bushfires and is expected to provide rapid relief to keep businesses afloat, particularly those not eligible for payroll tax waivers and deferrals.

Eligibility criteria for businesses include:

  • having between 1-19 employees and a turnover of more than $75,000;
  • payroll below the NSW government 2019-20 payroll tax threshold of $900,000;
  • have an ABN as at 1 March 2020, be based in NSW and employ staff as at 1 March 2020;
  • be highly impacted by the Public Health Order on restrictions on gathering and movement issued on 30 March 2020;
  • use the grant for unavoidable business costs such as utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice; and
  • provide appropriate documentation on application.

It is expected that eligible businesses will be able to apply for the grant through Service NSW by mid-April 2020. Applications will remain open until 1 June 2020. According to the NSW government, highly impacted industries include:

  • retail trade;
  • accommodation and food services;
  • rental, hiring and real estate services;
  • administrative and support services; and
  • arts and recreation services.

Besides local cafés, restaurants, corner shops and small accommodation providers, the grant is also expected to apply to gyms according to NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet.

This latest grant follows other assistance measures announced by the NSW government including: payroll tax waivers, deferrals, and other tax deferrals; fund to create jobs in NSW, waiving a range of fees and charges for certain businesses, assistance for the vulnerable, additional funding for the health system, and bringing forward capital works.

In addition to the above, the NSW government has also pointed to relief measures and grants provided by other organisations and businesses, including the electricity and gas network relief package. It is aimed at small businesses that are temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Under the support package organised by Energy Networks Australia, eligible businesses may be able to obtain full electricity or gas tariff relief.