Workers in Greater Melbourne who have been affected by the ongoing Covid lockdown may be eligible for Commonwealth assistance payments, the Government has confirmed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday (Thursday) that a ‘temporary Covid disaster payment’ is to be made on a week-by-week basis.
People over the age of 17 who usually work more than 20 hours a week will be eligible for the full $500, or alternatively for a $325 payment if they work fewer hours.
The PM said the payment would be part of a new national framework and will be made available to other states if they are declared a Commonwealth hotspot and a lockdown is needed for more than a week.
Workers in regional Victoria are ineligible
This means that people in regional Victoria – which endured a one-week lockdown – are ineligible, but workers in Greater Melbourne – which is in its second week of lockdown – may qualify.
In order to qualify, a person must declare that they would have worked if a lockdown had not been imposed and would lose income because of it. They must also have used up all pandemic sick leave or other leave if their employer offers it, and they must have less than $10,000 in liquid assets.
Anyone who is receiving other kinds of support payments from the Commonwealth, such as JobSeeker, will not be eligible for the payment.
“We are talking about somebody getting through the next week,” the Prime Minister explained. “Someone who would normally be in an economic situation where every dollar counts.”
The Victoria State Government has already announced more than $200-million in extra financial support for businesses impacted by the decision to extend the lockdown for another week.
Retailers welcome the financial assistance
Australia’s largest retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s temporary payment as an important protection for workers impacted by ongoing restrictions, but says more needs to be done, particularly for small business.
“We see it as a shared State and Federal responsibility to protect jobs and preserve businesses such as CBD and travel retailers, food operators and other small businesses that would otherwise be thriving,” said ARA CEO, Paul Zahra.
“Whilst the Victorian Government’s business support package is also welcome, we still await details on how this will be accessible to the average small retailer affected by the lockdown.
“Reversing the planned payroll tax changes in the most recent Victorian budget would also go a long way toward giving businesses certainty and support.”