The time is now for Councils across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands to support local businesses by introducing business support and resilience packages, according to the Illawarra Business Chamber.

“We’ve seen Commonwealth and state governments pull out all the stops to support businesses to remain open and hold onto their staff, and now it is time for local governments to address business pain points that fall under their control,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of the Illawarra Business Chamber.
 
“Councils should be utilising the policy levers at their disposal to provide relief over the next six months.”
 
“Last week I put forward five key measures that we hope each Council in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands is considering. Of these, I consider waiving or deferring commercial rates, in addition to suspending fees and charges, as the most important measures that Councils must deliver in any support package.”
 
“Rents are a major remaining cost pressure for small businesses, and by waiving or deferring rates, Councils can support commercial landlords to pass on rental savings directly to businesses.”
 
“This would complement the decision by banks to defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months.”
 
“Suspending fees and charges also helps those businesses to weather the months ahead, when they seek to return to normal operating conditions. Deferral alone will simply see debt accrue on balance sheets.”
 
“I welcome today’s news that Wollongong City Council will consider deferring commercial rates for six months on Monday evening and urge all Councils to consider additional business support and resilience measures. For instance, the precedent set by the City of Newcastle and our own five point plan,” said Mr Zarth.
 

Media Contact: Adam Zarth (0404 146 829)
 

Illawarra Business Chamber’s 5-point business support package for councils
  • Fees and charges – waive or defer rates for commercial landlords (with a view to relief being passed on to tenants), and suspending and other fees and charges.
  • Capital expenditure – brought forward to keep the construction sector moving.
  • Payment policy – swifter payment of contractors and an increased weighting to local contractors in future tenders.
  • Rent reductions – pausing or reducing rents for small businesses in buildings owned by Councils.
  • Business attraction – bring forward any prospective business attraction or other forms of seed funding.