The NSW Government has failed to pay struggling small businesses $501 million in COVID-19 promised grants, with the scheme closing in just eight days.
The Minister for Small Business Damian Tudehope confirmed the poor result in a parliamentary hearing yesterday.
In April, the Berejiklian Government promised small businesses $750 million of grants. It said 75,000 small businesses who don’t pay payroll tax could ask for a $10,000 grant.
NSW Labor’s Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business Daniel Mookhey said the Government’s failure was “shocking”.
He called on them to pay the remaining $501 million to NSW’s struggling small businesses:
“NSW small businesses are suffering the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression. Yet the Government has failed to deliver half-a-billion dollars worth of emergency help it promised,” Mr Mookhey said.
“How can the Minister shut down this grant scheme in eight days when $501 million is unspent?
“The Minister must promise to keep the grant scheme open until the last dollar arrives in people’s bank accounts. Small businesses will be heartbroken if the grants stop with $500 million remaining.”
Treasury officials told Parliament:
The Government only received 34,000 applications for a grant from hundreds of thousands of businesses not paying payroll tax.
Service NSW has distributed just $249 million of the $750 million budgeted, with 25,000 small businesses obtaining grants.
NSW small businesses must suffer a 75% downturn to qualify for a COVID grant, despite Victoria applying JobKeeper’s 30% requirement for help.
Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord said: “The Government is tripping over their own red-tape. They set too high a hurdle for small businesses to clear.
“The Minister should adopt Victoria’s simpler rules. The $501 million remaining must get to small businesses as soon as possible.”