NSW Covid assistance package: are you eligible for the disaster relief payment and how much support is available?

As greater Sydney prepares for its fourth week of lockdown, a multibillion-dollar Covid assistance package has been announced by the federal and New South Wales governments.

The NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said the package would provide support for “every worker, for every business, right across the state”.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said the package would serve as a template for other extended lockdowns, and it was in the “national interest” to get the support right.

Here is everything we know so far about the package.

I’ve lost work as a result of the lockdown, am I eligible?

Workers affected by the lockdown will be eligible for a disaster relief payment.

A person will be eligible for the payment, including where they are still working, provided they have lost more than eight hours, or a full day, of work as a result of the lockdown.

The payment will apply even if you are not working in a locked down area, with the NSW government funding payments outside a commonwealth-declared hotspot from 18 July, while the federal government continues to fund hotspots.

How much is it?

The disaster payment will be $600 (up from $500) a week if a person has lost 20 or more hours of work a week.

It will be $375 a week (up from $325) if a person has lost between eight and 20 hours of work a week.

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When and how is it accessible?

The increased payment will be made available from week four of a lockdown that has been triggered by a commonwealth government-declared hotspot.

The revamped scheme means you will only have to apply once, and will then receive a weekly payment for the duration of the lockdown.

You can apply here.

What about business?

A new small and medium business support payment has been announced that will give eligible entities a payment worth 40% of their NSW payroll payments.

Entities will be eligible if their turnover is 30% lower than an equivalent two-week period in 2019.

This is available for non-employing and employing entities in NSW, including not-for-profits, with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50m.

The commonwealth will also make NSW small business grants tax-exempt, and will put in place administrative relief for businesses undergoing hardship.

How much is it worth?

The payment will be a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $10,000 a week, depending on how much payroll tax is paid.

For non-employing businesses, such as sole traders, the payment will be set at $1,000 a week.

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Can businesses get the payment and still sack staff?

To receive the payment, entities will be required to maintain their full-time, part-time and long-term casual staffing level as of 13 July 2021.

However, it is not clear how this will be policed or enforced, with Morrison saying he expected businesses to fulfil this commitment based on the likelihood they will need staff again soon.

When and how is it accessible?

Businesses can register their interest from 14 July 2021 at www.service.nsw.gov.au.

The assistance will cease when current lockdown restrictions are eased or when the commonwealth hotspot declaration is removed.

What about mental health support?

The commonwealth and NSW governments have announced a $17.35m mental health support package for the state, which will include more funding for Lifeline, free 24-hour support via Sonder, and counselling for perinatal depression and anxiety.

The package will also fund mental health support for vulnerable and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and assistance for young people through Headspace, Kids Helpline and the Butterfly Foundation.

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