COSBOA welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement of the temporary COVID disaster payment for individuals who have lost work due to a COVID lockdown of more than a week. We understand that the payment is $500 for those who work more than 20 hours a week and $325 for those who work fewer.
COSBOA Interim CEO Alexi Boyd said “this is fantastic news. COSBOA has been advocating for a standardised, national approach to business support since March 2020 and this payment for workers is a great step towards that. Wages are one of the biggest fixed costs for businesses and a source of stress during lockdowns.
“Small business owners in particular often know their staff quite well and don’t want to see them lose their income. Not being able to afford wages is a painful situation, and this payment will be a relief in that respect.”
Ms Boyd added “Knowing what support to expect if your community is impacted by an extended lockdown in the future is also important for business (and consumer) confidence. COSBOA members report that uncertainty is a big source of anxiety for small business operators.”
Ms Boyd further added “Staff wages are very significant but they aren’t the only ongoing cost for businesses; business owners also have to pay rent, mortgages and other loan repayments - including debt that has been deferred from 2020 – as well as wages for themselves. That’s why we hope that the National Cabinet will also agree on a payment for businesses. It’s important that policy makers consider everyone, whether they are an employee, an employer, or a sole-trader.”
COSBOA notes that the National Cabinet will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this further. We also note Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments about splitting funding of the payment 50-50 between the Victorian Government and Federal Government.
Ms Boyd said “We’re really happy to see that the National Cabinet will be discussing this. What we hope will happen next is that they agree both to a standardised national package of financial assistance for businesses and households (including consistent eligibility criteria) and a set of standardised practices for lockdowns. We also hope consult with peak bodies like COSBOA on the features of their business support programs. For too long the Victorian Government in particular has developed business support programs without genuine consultation, creating unnecessary anxiety and even leaving some industries ineligible for support altogether.”
Ms Boyd concluded “Clearly there is some detail to work through here between the Federal Government and the state and territory governments, but COSBOA’s hope is that the National Cabinet is able to finalise this detail quickly.”