The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia is constantly evolving and both the Federal and State Governments have aimed to provide continued economic support to those impacted by the public health orders in place. The 2021-2022 Budget committed to providing an additional $41 billion in direct economic support, equating the Government’s total support from the beginning of the pandemic to $291 billion as of May this year. The following article will provide you with a quick guide on the Government schemes available to support individuals, businesses, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic and outline the various eligibility criteria and claim processes required.
On the 26th of June 2021, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong would enter a lockdown for two weeks. This was extended several times with the lockdown likely to be eased once the State reaches 70% double-dose vaccination for all eligible adults.
What is the COVID-19 disaster payment?
The Federal Government’s COVID-19 disaster payment is a lump sum payment to assist workers who are unable to earn an income due to the stay-at-home orders in place. This extends to those who are unable to attend work as their places of employment have been closed, and can not carry out their work from home.
The type of payment received will depend on a few key factors including whether you do or do not currently receive a Centrelink or DVA payment. If you are not currently receiving one of these payments, you may be entitled to receive the disaster payment upon meeting the following criteria:
- You are an Australian resident or hold a visa that gives you the right to work in Australia
- You are 17 years or older
- You are not getting an income support payment, parental leave pay or an ABSTUDY living allowance
- you’re not getting the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, a state or territory pandemic payment or a state small business payment for the same period
- You’ve lost hours of work and income due to a lockdown in your state and do not have pandemic-related paid leave entitlements
- You couldn’t earn your usual income of 8 hours or more or a full day’s work because you were in a NSW COVID-19 hotspot and are subject to restricted movement
- You’re not getting your usual income and your employer is not getting Retaining Domestic Airline Capability payments on your behalf
- you lived or worked in or visited a Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspot in NSW that is subject to a restricted movement order.
If you satisfy the above criterion that is relevant to you, you may be able to claim this support payment during the time NSW has been locked down.
How much can you get?
How much individuals receive will depend on the hours of work that has been lost.
If you are eligible under the above conditions, you will receive $450 per week if the following apply:
- You have lost at least 8 hours of work
- You lost less than 20 hours of work
- You couldn’t work a full day for that week
If you’re eligible, you will receive $750 per week if you lost 20 hours or more for that week.
The COVID-19 payment is tax-free income and therefore does not need to be included in your tax return.
How do I claim this payment?
Once you have established that you are eligible for one of the above payments you can claim the payment online by following the instructions here. This involves setting up a myGov account if you do not already have one and linking it to Centrelink. Once you have linked your account, you will need to prove your identity online. Once you have done this and answered the eligibility and claim questions you are able to submit your claim. For detailed steps on how to complete this process, click here.
Do I need to do anything else?
If your circumstances change and you begin to earn an income again, it is a good idea to notify Centrelink within 14 days of these changes. Failing to do this could mean that you incur a debt to the value of the payments you were ineligible to receive which will need to be paid back. If your circumstances change again and you are again eligible to receive the disaster payment, you can submit a new claim. A change in circumstances includes any of the following:
- your employment such as your employer
- your hours of work compared to the last claiming period
- your bank account details
- your residence status
- where you live or work
- if you are no longer subject to a second public health order as a result of being present in a COVID-19 hotspot
- your employer starts paying your usual income to you as they’re getting Retaining Domestic Airline Capability payments on your behalf.
Centrelink also needs to know if you are receiving another payment or entitlement during the same period as your COVID-19 disaster payment which includes any of the following:
- Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
- any state-based pandemic payment
- employer-funded pandemic-related leave entitlements
- an income support payment
- Dad and Partner Pay
- Parental Leave Pay
- ABSTUDY Living Allowance
- annual leave for either all or part of the hours of work you’ve lost.
To inform myGov of a change to your circumstances you can provide this update through Centrelink linked to your account. To read more about how to do this, click here.
Is there any assistance for businesses?
There are a range of schemes that have been introduced by the Government to help assist businesses that have been negatively impacted by the stay-at-home orders.
The JobSaver payment provides eligible businesses with fortnightly payments to help maintain employee headcount and provide sufficient cash inflows to support businesses with their fixed costs incurred from week 4 of the COVID 19 restrictions
How much will I receive?
- Employing businesses: 40% of weekly payroll, with a minimum payment of $1,500 per week and a maximum payment of $100,000 per week
- Non-employing business: $1,000 per week.
Am I eligible?
You must have the following:
- A revenue decline of 30% or more and
- Turnover between $75,000 and $250 million.
For additional instructions on how to apply, click here.
If you are not eligible for this JobSaver payment you may be able to claim the COVID-19 micro-business grant.
The COVID-19 micro-business grant provides fortnightly payments to businesses with a turnover between $30,000 and $75,000. If you are one of these entities you will receive $1,500 per fortnight. However, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- A turnover between $30,000 and $75,000
- A revenue decline of 30% or more
- Businesses that provide the primary source of income for a person associated with the business
For more information about whether you’re are eligible for this payment and how you can apply, click here.
COVID-19 business grant:
The COVID-19 business grant is a one-off payment to help businesses, sole traders or not-for-profit organisations impacted by the current COVID-19 restrictions. This includes grants between $7,500 and $15,000 which are available to eligible businesses depending on the decline in turnover experienced during the first 3 weeks of COVID-19 restrictions (26 June to 17 July 2021).
For eligibility criteria and to apply, you can click here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted individuals, businesses, families and the economy in a variety of ways. If you wish to restructure or revise your current financial or investing strategy, please click here to organise a complimentary 20-minute phone call with an EPG Wealth adviser.