The region’s peak business organisation, Business Illawarra, has welcomed the commencement of extended support measures for businesses and the NSW Government’s decision to make several COVID recovery measures permanent.
The increased Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate that was introduced as part of the NSW COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy is now available to help businesses bounce back and get the economy firing again. The rebate has increased from $1,500 to $2,000 and now includes road user tolls for the first time.
Small businesses which have already registered for the previous $1,500 Small Business Rebate program will not be required to re-register. Those businesses will receive an automatic $500 top-up to the digital voucher. New applicants will receive one $2,000 digital voucher and can register via their MyService NSW Account.
The NSW Government has also announced that a further range of initiatives introduced during the pandemic will be permanently adopted and has estimated that as a result, an additional $3.1 billion in economic benefits over 10 years will be generated.
“During the pandemic, we advocated that government should be cutting red tape for business, and so it’s pleasing to see a number of restrictions around trading hours for businesses being permanently lifted, and businesses being allowed to operate at times that suit them if located in industrial areas,” said Business Illawarra Executive Director, Adam Zarth.
“A lot has changed over the last two years, and as businesses have had to constantly pivot to meet the rapidly evolving needs of their customers, so too should government regulations, fees and charges.”
“For example, the community has changed its buying habits, particularly when it comes to food and perishable items, so it is important that businesses are able to trade at a time when it suits their customers.”
“The rebate scheme is a practical way of eliminating some of those minor but frustrating costs to business and will help them bounce back quicker as consumer demand continues to rise.”
“We will continue to work with government to ease regulatory burdens and costs to business as the economy reopens and recovers,” Mr Zarth said.
The temporary changes made permanent include:
- Extended opening hours for businesses including supermarkets: Most businesses in business areas will be able to open from 6am to 10pm with those in industrial zones able to be open for 24 hours.
- Businesses will continue to operate 24 hours a day for things like deliveries and non-trading activities in industrial and business zones.
- Dark kitchens and food trucks: Allowing dark kitchens to operate in existing commercial kitchens and food trucks to operate at any time (with some restricted times in residential areas).
- Physical copies of planning documents will no longer be required. Councils will have the option to make digital copies available.
- Online public meetings and public planning panels will be made permanent to make it easier for the community to access. Planning panels and the Independent Planning Commission will be given the flexibility to hold hearings or meetings online, in person or as a hybrid of both.
- Digital interviews and questioning: enforcement authorities will be able to continue to conduct interviews remotely via audio link or audio-visual link under various natural resources legislation.