Businesses across the Illawarra will be relieved by today’s announcement by the federal government that it would extend the JobKeeper wage subsidy beyond the end of September, according to the Illawarra Business Chamber.
 
Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director Adam Zarth said that news was made all the more welcome in an environment of mounting stress for business, caused by the lockdown in Victoria and increasing cases of COVID-19 in the region.
 
“The impact of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns has hit the local business community hard across a broad range of sectors, and many felt unprepared and vulnerable by the looming financial cliff at the end of September,” said Mr Zarth.
 
“Approximately 45 percent of businesses in the Illawarra (around 8,800 businesses) are registered for JobKeeper. While our region has fared better than elsewhere in the state, in terms of jobs lost and recovery from April to June, our regional economy is still heavily dependent on continued government support.”
 
“Government’s decision to continue the subsidy until the end of March 2021 shows it has listened to our calls for JobKeeper to be extended and targeted, because we know that the economic pain will not end on October 1st.”
 
“This is also an important measure for our local workforce, who can remain connected to their employer and in many cases engaged in skilled and meaningful work well beyond October and into the new year.”
 
“The decision to better target JobKeeper was essential for the sustainability of the subsidy, given the current cost of the scheme is around $5 billion per week and, while there is an assumption about the rate of our economic recovery built in, let’s hope that it proves to be correct.”
 
Survey results released by the Chamber earlier this month, undertaken by its parent organisation Business NSW, found that around one in three recipient businesses have not planned for when JobKeeper payments stop.
 
It also demonstrated the importance of JobKeeper in sustaining local employment, with one in two recipients reporting they will be unable to maintain current hours and headcount after JobKeeper ends.
 
 
Media Contact: James Newton (0424 254 281)