How to get financial support if you're out of work during lockdown

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As the New South Wales COVID outbreak deepens, the Federal and NSW governments have rolled out further relief payments for both individuals and businesses.

Support for individuals

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced an increase to the disaster payment from $325 to $375 for those who have lost up to 20 hours of work, while the payment for people who have lost more than 20 hours of work has increased from $500 to $600.

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The payments will then recur during the extent of the lockdown.

The increased payments are set to come into effect in week four of the lockdown.

The payments previously only applied to people in Sydney's COVID hotspots, but from July 18, 2021, will be available to people outside Commonwealth declared hotspots in NSW who:

  • can't attend work and lost income on or after day eight of a COVID-19 restriction of movement;
  • don't have access to appropriate paid leave entitlements through your employer
  • you're not getting an income support payment, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Dad and Partner Pay or Parental Leave Pay;
  • aren't getting a state or territory pandemic payment, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment or state small business payment for the same period.

The federal government will cover the costs in broader Sydney, while the NSW government will fund the rest of NSW.

The payments will also be offered to any state or territory that experiences an extended lockdown beyond week three following the declaration of a Commonwealth hotspot.

To apply, you'll need a MyGov account linked to a Centrelink online account. More information can be found on the Services Australia website here.

The package does not go far enough, according to Australian Council of Social Services CEO Cassandra Goldie, as excludes those who already receive income support.

"They are struggling to get by below the poverty line with Jobseeker just $315 a week, yet, the government's announcement today excludes them from the disaster payments, despite many having lost paid work because of the lockdown," she says.

"While we welcome that the increased disaster payments will help many people on low and modest incomes who have lost paid work due to the lockdown, those on the lowest incomes are being left to face destitution and homelessness."

Support for businesses

Meanwhile, the NSW government announced support payments that would see businesses with turnover between $75,000 and $50 million receive between $1000 and $10,000 per week, calculated as 40% of the business' annual payroll payments.

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

The payments will be made on condition that businesses maintain current staffing levels.

"What this does is give us peace of mind, and a breather for everybody in that when you provide that economic support for individuals and businesses, it gives us the freedom to do what we need on the health side," says NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Businesses can register their interest on the Service NSW website.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.