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Banks welcome NSW COVID support

The big four banks have responded to the expanded COVID support in NSW for businesses and workers impacted by extended lockdowns.

On 13 July, the Morrison and Berejiklian governments announced an expanded support package for workers and businesses affected by coronavirus pandemic outbreaks and associated lockdowns.

The expanded measures included making grants available to eligible businesses with annual wages up to $10 million to cover the first three weeks of restrictions, and payroll tax waivers for businesses with Australian wages of between $1.2 million and $10 million that have experienced a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

It also includes grants for micro businesses with turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 that experience a 30 per cent decline in turnover, a new SME business support payment (which is expected to me implemented and administered by Service NSW, with the Commonwealth funding 50 per cent of the cost).

In addition, there will be an eviction moratorium, with grants of up to $1,500 made available to residential landlords who reduce rent for affected tenants.

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Furthermore, the federal government has announced measures that would not only support NSW businesses, but other businesses across Australia that are impacted by extended lockdowns.

For example, the federal government will increase the COVID-19 Disaster Payment for NSW and other states and territories that experience an extended lockdown.

The federal government also said that it will fund disaster recovery payments inside a Commonwealth-declared hotspot from the fourth week of a lockdown, with NSW saying it would cover those outside of a Commonwealth-declared hotspot.

The new package also includes mental health support, with the federal and NSW governments announcing a $17.35 million package to fund crisis and mental health services.

The lockdown in Greater Sydney – which is in its third week and was due to end on 16 July – has been extended by two weeks to 30 July.

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ANZ: Measures provide financial certainty

ANZ welcomed the support package for businesses and individuals impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown.

ANZ CEO Shaye Elliott said: “Today’s package from the federal and NSW governments will provide financial certainty for households and businesses impacted by the recent lockdowns in Greater Sydney.

“We all know cash flow is the lifeblood of business, and support measures announced today will go a long way to alleviating the challenges that businesses will face over the coming period.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have worked with the federal and state governments to help Australians through a number of financial challenges, and we are ready to do so again. If any of our customers need support or are feeling uncertain, I urge them to get in contact as quickly as possible.”

CBA announces bridging finance facility ahead of government payments

In welcoming further support from the governments for businesses impacted by the current lockdown, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) said that it will assist eligible customers with access to bridging finance before government payments are made available.

The lender said that from 14 July, a new bridging finance facility has been made available for customers who may require immediate access to the funds from government payments.

CBA business banking group executive Michael Vacy-Lyle said: “We encourage eligible businesses needing help to register for the government support, and those needing more urgent assistance to contact us.

“We have a range of Emergency Assistance measures available for our customers, including bridging loans, new lending through the SME Recovery Loan Scheme, repayment deferrals of their Better Business Loans and merchant fee refunds.”

Mr Vacy-Lyle noted that securing access to government support is critical for some businesses, particularly to enable them to keep their staff employed.

“We are pleased to see the governments’ support for these businesses, and CommBank is committed to continuing to play our role in helping Australian business recover from the impacts of the pandemic and the latest restrictions,” he said.

NAB to help with loan repayments

The National Australia Bank (NAB) CEO Ross McEwan said that the governments’ measures “go to the heart” of where support is required, including for those temporarily out of work or where businesses have been forced to shutter their doors.

He said: “Our bankers stand ready to help customers who need it. Every customer’s situation is different and our bankers will work with customers to provide the right support that suits their situation, which could be setting up a reduced payment plan, restructuring a loan or providing a temporary payment break.”

Mr McEwan also said that the major bank is exploring how it could use its major buildings as hubs to vaccinate its 31,000 employees.

“In the meantime, we’re also providing our people with the flexibility they need to make it easier to get vaccinated, including through paid pandemic leave or sick leave,” he said.

He also said that the federal and state governments have taken “decisive” actions throughout the pandemic to assist businesses and individuals.

Westpac sees low deferral requests

Westpac also welcomed the new support measures and its focus on business and household cashflow and keeping workers employed, particularly given the extension of the lockdown in Greater Sydney, Central Coast, and Wollongong.

The major bank’s CEO Peter King said that so far there has not been a significant rise in requests for loan repayment deferrals.

He said: “Early signs point to our customers’ resilience and while it’s a challenging time for many, at this stage we’re seeing only a small number of customers seeking deferrals and extra support.

“Our priority is to stay close to customers and remind them that we are here to help, and to call us early if they are under pressure financially.”

Furthermore, Westpac is providing time off for employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, Mr King said.

“We continue to work with the Government on how we can help to distribute the vaccine through a corporate workplace vaccination program, which Westpac will be extending to immediate family members of employees,” he said.

“We also have a range of flexibility support options for those employees balancing their work with home schooling their children.”

The major banks recently announced various support measures to businesses and individual customers impacted by nationwide lockdowns, including home loan deferrals.

[Related: Banks offer relief to Sydneysiders]

Banks welcome NSW COVID support
Banks welcome NSW COVID support
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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