With the Omicron wave washing over the state, the NSW government has announced a fresh package of business support worth $1 billion.

As businesses emerged from the Christmas period, they ran immediately into a wall of Omicron, which saw consumer confidence plummet and cash flow issues run rampant.

In fact, a survey of 2,000 members by Business NSW discovered that,

“40% don’t have enough cashflow for the next three months”.

Let’s do a rundown of what’s on offer, who it targets, and how your business can benefit.

New NSW support package not backed by federal government

The JobSaver style package was intended to be split in terms of costs with the federal government. This request by the NSW government was denied.

As such, the current package on offer is roughly half of what was intended. Despite being knocked back, the NSW government will still be releasing modest relief measures for businesses and workers.

Details of the Omicron support package

As Premier Dominic Perrottet said of the package,

“As part of the package, we are introducing the Small Business Support Program to help support businesses that experienced the worst effects of the Omicron wave,” said Mr Perrottet.

“We are also providing support to business to help reimburse the cost of rapid antigen tests for their workers, extending the Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant and delivering additional funding for the performing arts sector.

“This targeted package provides support for businesses who experienced cashflow issues and the immediate economic impacts of the Omicron outbreak.”

The NSW package will include the following:

  • The Small Business Support Program package will be targeted at businesses who turnover of less than $50 million and displaying a 40% decline in turnover in January 2022.
  • Those eligible businesses will receive a payment totalling 20% of their weekly payroll, up to $5,000 a week. Applications will be open from February and payments will not be back dated.
  • Financial support will also be available for small business to help offset the cost of rapid antigen tests (RATs).
  • $80 million will be earmarked for the performing arts sector, aimed at underwriting ticket sales.
  • There will be an extension of the Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant.

For further details please see the media release here.

Criticisms and responses to the package

Many in the NSW business community and the political opposition have levelled criticism at the package as being ‘too little, too late’. There is also some discord over the lack of back dating to the Christmas period.

As NSW opposition leader Chris Minns commented,

“It’s late and it’s not as much as many businesses hoped for, but it’s much needed economic support in one of the toughest economic conditions many people have ever faced,”

“Talk to anybody in this state and they’ll tell you that many businesses hoped that they would make up for lost revenue over the Christmas and New Year period,” he said.

“They cross their fingers, they kept their doors open, but as a result of the Omicron wave it’s had a severe effect on the NSW economy.”

Changes to reporting COVID-19 cases to SafeWork

In addition to the support package, there was also an earlier announcement on 31 January 2022 that outlined changes to the way businesses report COVID-19 cases in NSW.

From now on businesses are only expected to notify SafeWork NSW launch if a worker is hospitalised and/or dies as a result of contracting COVID-19 at work.

Businesses are no longer required to notify SafeWork NSW if a worker tests positive for COVID-19.

For full information on the Omicron business support package and other measures of support available for NSW businesses, please visit: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/business/financial-support