The New South Wales Government has announced a $1 billion support package for small to medium businesses financially impacted by the Omicron wave. The announcement has received widespread support from key stakeholders in the small-business sector.
Chris de Bruin, Westpac Chief Executive Consumer & Business Banking, said, “The NSW Government’s support package will provide a welcome boost for businesses hardest hit by the Omicron wave through providing financial assistance, commercial rent relief and subsidised Rapid Antigen Tests.
“The Omicron strain has caused disruption for many businesses across New South Wales over the peak holiday trading period and into the New Year,” said C. “While the financial impact of the Omicron wave has been on a much smaller scale than we saw at the start of the pandemic, we know there are still some businesses who will need this tailored support to keep doors open and staff employed over the coming months,” de Bruin added.
CBA Group Executive Business Banking, Mike Vacy-Lyle, also welcomed the initiative, saying, “We know many businesses are trying to navigate the challenges of the Coronavirus Omicron wave including staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions. So far, we have seen the impact on businesses vary depending on the industry, the life stage of a business, and the geographic location.
“While our current data shows the majority of our business customers remain resilient in the face of the Omicron variant, we know there are some that need assistance and we will continue to do what we can to ensure businesses are supported to navigate this period,” Lyle added, pointing out that of the businesses seeking financial assistance from CBA, about 35 per cent are NSW-based and the majority operating in the hospitality sector.
Joseph Lyons, Managing Director of Xero, Australia & Asia, said, “The announcement of financial support for small and medium sized businesses by state governments is welcome news to the thousands of business owners who have been doing it tough. There’s no doubt the Australian small business community has faced incredible challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it continues to be hampered by the uncertainty of this current outbreak.
“Xero has seen that this uncertainty not only impacts a business, but the business owner’s personal life, with our own small business trends report revealing 60 per cent of small business owners are worried about their own household finances running low,” Lyons added. “This support will not only give a much-needed boost to small businesses, but hopefully allow them increased confidence to invest in their business and employees – and set them up for a successful 2022.”
Workplace relations advisor Employsure, however, sounded a note of caution. “Although there have been support packages in the past, for most employers they are still walking a fine line financially as they struggle to sustain their business,” Employsure Business Partner Emma Dawson said. “One of the toughest trends we’ve seen over the summer period has been temporary closure due to a COVID infection in the workplace. With too many employees off sick, businesses have been forced to close and miss out on crucial revenue. To add to that stress, employers must then navigate the minefield of figuring out what leave employees are entitled to and how much they must pay accordingly.
“Any assistance for business, particularly small business, is welcome and will indeed take the strain off thousands of employers across the state,” Dawson added. “However, for some, the damage has already been done and permanent closure could be an inevitable result of these disruptions.”