WHILE the Federal and State governments have been providing various relief packages to individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, it has been local councils that are providing the nitty-gritty to keep small businesses viable.
Here is a run-down of what your council is doing for businesses during the pandemic economic slump.
PARRAMATTA: Residents and businesses having difficulty paying their rates can apply for financial relief under the Rates Hardship Policy. Eligible ratepayers can then enter payment arrangements with Council.
Eligible local businesses can also apply for a small business grant of up to $2,000 (from a pool of $100,000) to help modify their operating model and continue to generate revenue during the COVID-19 crisis.
Council will also amend its tender policy to support the purchase of local goods and services, where possible
BLACKTOWN: Business community initiatives through Blacktown City Council’s Economic Development service have included presenting a free business webinar series for four specific industry sectors: hospitality and leisure, retail, professional services, and manufacturing and logistics, with an expert panel to answer questions from local businesses.
This initiative, which ran in April and May, was in partnership with Cumberland City, Penrith City and The Hills Councils. Council has also adapted its small business training program to online workshops to assist small business and not for profit groups improve their operations and sustainability.
- Published regular e-newsletters to our local business community with updates on government assistance, grants and other forms of pandemic support initiatives.
- Supported the ‘buy local’ initiatives of the Member for Chifley, and of Riverstone Schofields Chamber of Commerce in promoting local businesses online.
CAMPBELLTOWN: Small businesses and community organisations and groups in affected by the COVID-19 health situation can now access grants of up to $2000 as part of the Council Campbelltown Cares initiative to support the local economy and vulnerable people in the LGA. The Campbelltown Cares Grants include Small Business Support Grants available to micro businesses, sole traders and small businesses in the LGA with an annual turnover of less than $5M to support their resilience and survival.
Some examples of business initiatives eligible for a Campbelltown Small Business Support Grant include:
- Development of a business website to improve digital marketing,
- Expansion of the business into deliveries or online shopping, and
- Business planning or improvement courses.
WOLLONDILLY: Wollondilly Business Support Plan delivers appropriate support for businesses in three phases – survival, adaptation, and recovery. Aim is to:
- Engage and communicate with local business • Promoting shop, visit and love local.
- Support business in seeking financial / non-financial assistance • Adapt to a new way of doing business.
- Reduce council costs for local businesses • Advocate to Government on behalf of businesses.
- Coordinate support services for local businesses.
Council will also consider relaxation of a range of fees and charges to assist local businesses and the community. The first phase is the initial investment from Council of $750,000.
HILLS: Will write-off interest charges for a period of six months on outstanding rates whereby the ratepayer has entered a payment plan due to COVID-19, as well as
deferrals of rent payments to council for a period of up to six months for small to medium-sized organisations who can demonstrate hardship and deferments of loan repayments owing to cCouncil for a maximum period of up to six months.
Also, council has refunded and not charged fees related to the cancellation of council’s Child Care Centre enrolments, Hills Community Care programs and venue hires, including halls and sporting fields. Council also directs businesses to websites with free business webinars.
BLUE MOUNTAINS: Has launched a new Business Directory, to assist small businesses who have had to change the way they operate due to COVID-19.
The Business Directory is the next phase of council’s Love Local campaign to support Blue Mountains businesses, who are struggling after recent bushfires as well as the pandemic.
The Love Local campaign, launched in January, encouraged locals to spend an extra $20 per week so local businesses could recoup money lost after visitors stayed away during bush fires.
CUMBERLAND: Council will waive all outdoor dining licensing fees for the rest of this calendar year, leaving any businesses who have paid up until the rest of this financial year, in credit for future years. Any lessees of council properties can discuss rent deferral options,
There also have been free webinar sessions for businesses wanting advice on how to survive the crisis.
PENRITH: Council will waive charges and fees relating to outdoor and footpath dining permits for 33 businesses in the Penrith and St Marys CBD’s over the next 12 months.
LIVERPOOL: Businesses can apply for up to $5000 each. This applies to businesses
- With less than 20 employees (incl. sole traders) if based in the Liverpool CBD or have less than 100 employees if based in the greater Liverpool region;
- Have an ABN and have been trading for a minimum of 12 months (businesses who have been in operation for less than 12 months may be considered based on evidence of viability);
- Can demonstrate loss of cash flow reduction of 30 percent or more (compared between the same one week period between April 2019 and April 2020);
- Can demonstrate that they can or have ‘pivoted’ their good/s or service/s to adapt to current rules (Definition of pivot is when a company makes a fundamental change to their business after determining that their existing operating model or product is no longer working – this may involve selling new products or services, beginning to sell online and beginning to offer deliveries).
For more details, go to the councils’ websites.