It’s August, and this chilly winter and periodic lockdowns can’t end fast enough for many of us. One bright spot, along with the golden wattle at this time of year, is the golden performance of our athletes in Tokyo.
The economic fallout from on-again, off-again lockdowns continued in July. The annual rate of inflation rose from 1.1% to 3.8% in the June quarter. This temporary blip was due to higher prices for childcare (which was free in the June quarter last year), petrol and goods in short supply due to supply chain and workforce disruptions. Even so, the Reserve Bank has said it won’t consider lifting interest rates until inflation is “sustainably” within its 2-3% target range.
The Australian economy is expected to contract and unemployment to rise in the September quarter, after the jobless rate fell from 5.1% to a 10-year low of 4.9% in June. Not surprisingly, consumer confidence as measured by ANZ and Roy Morgan fell to an 8-month low of 100.7 points in July. Retail trade fell 1.8% in June but remained 2.9% up on a year earlier.
There are positive signs though for Australian miners’ profits and dividends. Crude oil and natural gas prices are up around 50% this year, while iron ore prices are up 24% due to the gradual reopening of global economies and China’s strong growth, up by an annual rate of 7.9% in the June quarter. Record exports pushed Australia’s trade surplus to a record high of $13.3 billion in June. Australia’s housing boom is also increasing demand for materials, with housing construction hitting a two-and-a-half year high in the March quarter.
The Australian dollar fell one cent to around US74c in July.
New COVID-19 relief schemes explained
As we navigate ongoing lockdowns due to COVID-19 across Australia, here is a guide to the latest benefits you may be entitled to from the Federal and State Governments.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment (PLDP) is a program to support you, if you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to earn an income because you are required to self-isolate, quarantine, or are caring for someone with COVID-19. The payment provides a lump sum of $1,500 per fortnight and you will need to meet certain criteria, which does vary between states and territories.
A COVID-19 Disaster Payment (CDP) is available for workers who are adversely affected by a state public health order including a lockdown, hotspot or movement restrictions. Again, the eligibility criteria vary by state, as can the amounts.
In addition, Centrelink provides a one-off Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency payment for those affected by COVID-19. You would need to already be eligible for income support or in severe financial hardship and are required to quarantine or self-isolate or are caring for someone required to be in quarantine or self-isolation. You will only be able to access 2 Crisis Payments for National Health Emergency in a 6-month period.
New South Wales
- The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will provide $1,500 for each 14 day period you must self-isolate or quarantine, or are caring for someone who has COVID-19 or must quarantine or self-isolate, and unable to earn an income.
- From July 14, there is a 60-day moratorium on evictions for residential tenants who have lost 25% or more of their income due to stay at home orders.
- Businesses who suffer a 30% reduction in revenue due to the restrictions, which have a turnover between $75,000 and $250 million, can now apply for up to $100,000 in JobSaver grants a week.
- For businesses with a turnover between $30,000 and $75,000, the COVID-19 Micro Business Grant provides a fortnightly $1,500 payment, if your revenue has declined by more than 30%.
- Businesses now have the option to defer the payment of their payroll tax, including the 2020-21 annual reconciliation, July and August 2021 monthly return periods until 7 October 2021. Interest free payment plans will be available for up to 12 months.
- For businesses that have experienced at least a 30% decline in turnover, or for NSW businesses with grouped Australian wages of no more than $10 million, a 25% reduction of their 2021-22 payroll tax liability may be available.
- The COVID-19 Disaster Program is available for eligible Victorians between July 16 and 27th period. Although this period has lifted you still may be able to access this payment if you are eligible. The opportunity to claim closes on August 12th for the July 16-22nd July period and on August 19th for the July 23-27th period.
- The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will provide $1,500 for each 14 day period you must self-isolate or quarantine or are caring for someone who has COVID-19 or must quarantine or self-isolate.
- Victorian Government COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment provides a payment of $450 for workers who are required to self-isolate while waiting for COVID-19 test results.
- The Business Continuity Fund provides relief for up to around 30,000 business, that continue to be impacted by capacity limits on businesses with a $5,000 grant. There are 24 eligible sectors (including restaurants & cafes, gyms and hairdressers).For CBD businesses, that are also impacted by reduced foot traffic due to restrictions on staff allowed back into offices, you may also be eligible for an additional $2000 grant. To be eligible, for the Business Continuity Fund businesses must have received, or be eligible for the Business Cost Assistance Program round two.
- The Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 will receive extra funding to provide grants of up to $20,000, to support licensed venues that continue to be impacted by the current restrictions. This grant recognises the higher operating costs of larger licensed venues. Licensed venues that have received or were eligible for the previous Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund. CBD venues will again, also have an additional $2,000 grant available.
- The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund provides grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million where the current restrictions have resulted in at least a 70% reduction in revenue.
- The Alpine Business Support Program will provide $5,000 – $20,000 grants to 430 Alpine based businesses, recognising the impact of restrictions of movement and limited interstate travel, throughout peak season. There is also an additional $5 million support to alpine resort operators and management boards.
- The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme has been reintroduced to assist eligible tenants with proportional rent relief and to support landlords assisting tenants. Eligible businesses must have experienced at least a 30% reduction in turnover and have an annual turnover of less than $50 million. Again tenants and landlords are encouraged to reach an agreement directly, the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will be available to provide mediation.
- The Victorian Energy Saver scheme is available to assist with paying energy bills.
- In addition to the PLDP, workers in Queensland may be eligible for support and relocation incentives.
- Small and medium businesses impacted by the South East Queensland lockdown commencing 31 July 2021 may be eligible for a $5000 grant to use on business expenses. To be eligible, the business needs to have a turnover of more than $75,000 and an annual payroll in Queensland of up to $10 million and need to have at least a 30% reduction in turnover as a result of the lockdown.
- Grants are also available for large hospitality and tourism businesses operating in the 11 local government areas in lockdown, eligibility criteria apply. Applications open mid-August.
Australian Capital Territory
While the ACT has a number of smaller support packages in place to help the community, the primary COVID-19 relief scheme available is the $1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
Similar to other states, if you can’t earn an income because you need to self-isolate or quarantine for 14 days, or need to care for someone with COVID-19, you may be eligible for the $1,500 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment offered to Territorians.
In addition to PLDP, one-off grants of $300 are available to eligible workers required to self-isolate.
In addition to PLDP, grants are available to eligible low-income casual workers or self-employed Tasmanians required to self-isolate.
If you have any questions about the grants available or whether you are eligible, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Robert Sekulovski of The Wealth Quay is an Authorised Representative of RI Advice Group Pty Ltd, ABN 23 001 774 125 AFSL 238429. This editorial does not consider your personal circumstances and is of a general nature only – unless otherwise stated. You should not act on the information provided without first obtaining professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.