The NSW Government has announced a $395 million economic stimulus package to maintain essential local services and infrastructure and keep people in council jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The centrepiece of the support package is an allocation of $112.5 million from the state government’s “Jobs for NSW” fund to support a Council Job Retention Allowance of $1500 per fortnight per employee to limit job losses in the local government sector.
The allowance will be paid to qualifying staff for up to three months.
The package also includes a $250 million increase in low-cost loans to eligible councils through the state’s borrowing facility provided by TCorp to kick-start community infrastructure projects.
TCorp will also be offering principal and interest payments deferrals on existing council loans on request for the next six months.
In another measure, $32.8 million will be earmarked to assist councils meet the cost of the FY2020/21 increase in the Emergency Services Levy.
Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said: “This funding injection enables councils to redirect funds to critical core services and deliver much-needed financial support for local communities”.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott welcomed the announcement, saying the association had been in steady and constant liaison with the Federal and NSW governments on the need for financial stimulus and assistance to local government during the pandemic.
Cr Scott said LGNSW would continue to work with the government to achieve the best outcomes for communities, including assessing the need for a possible extension of the Council Job Retention Allowance to ensure it is in line with the six-month JobKeeper program.