COVID19 Local Government Areas' actions

COVID19 Local Government Recovery Actions

Business Support

The 33 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of greater Sydney are undertaking a diverse range of actions to support business during post Covid recovery. Several Local Governments provided packages of measures to support businesses, including City of Sydney City Council, Northern Beaches, Randwick, Sutherland, North Sydney, and Waverley Councils. As an example, the Hills Shire Council has had interest charges waived, loan repayments owing to Council deferred, and conditions for restaurants to trade relaxed. Additionally, it created a dedicated webpage where business and staff can access business resources. 

Specific Actions regarding business support from LGAs included:

  • Business and community support (Mosman)

  • Supporting local business (Northern Beaches)

  • Free business mentoring through Western Sydney Advisory Services (Hawkesbury)

  • Business assistance documents and a business support webpage (Liverpool)

  • Commitment to help businesses from City of Ryde Mayor and grants for businesses (Ryde)

  • COVID safe printed material (Mosman)

  • Ease of restrictions, temporary outdoor program (Fairfield)

  • Electronic news on support to businesses (Hunters Hill)

  • $2.3 million COVID19 community support package to waive Council fees (Randwick)

  • Granting of take-away permits (Georges River)

  • Interest charges waived, deferring of loan repayments owing to Council, relaxed conditions for restaurants to trade and dedicated webpage where business and staff can access business resources.  (The Hills)

  • Promotion of local food businesses (Inner West)

  • Webinars (Partnership between Blacktown City, Penrith City and Cumberland Councils)

  • Adoption of 2020-21 Operational Plan that ensures continued support for businesses (Penrith, Randwick)

  • Retail Innovation Program (City of Sydney)

  • Additionally, 23 LGAs stated having support for business in the form of: Business hubs, dedicated teams, directories, online training, resilience, and promotion.

Focus on local business

Fifteen LGAs have stated a focus on local business that has taken different forms including:

  • Procurement (Waverley, Camden)

  • Directory of local businesses (Fairfield)

  • Investment (Penrith)

  • Shop local (The Hills)

  • Small business (Strathfield, Sutherland)

  • Local economic recovery (Blue Mountains).

As an example, Waverley Council is working to ensure the local business community is supported to navigate the effects of COVID19. Waverley Council has established a COVID-19 business assistance support team focused on supporting local businesses. This team has developed a small business relief package which offers approximately $1 million per month in financial relief.

Grants

Fifteen LGAs stated having grants to support business through COVID19, they were centred around:

  • Small Business (Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Hawkesbury, Ryde, Parramatta, Sydney City Council)

  • Business Resilience (Liverpool)

  • Digital Adaptation and Innovation (Camden)

  • Local Artists (Blue Mountains)

Other grants include focus on smart cities, changing business models, and online commerce.

Financial Assistance

Several LGAs have provided financial assistance to help businesses survive through the negative impacts of COVID19.

Specifically, 12 LGAs stated having granted financial assistance that has taken the form of:

  • assistance in making payments

  • assistance for cafes and restaurants

  • fast payments to help cash flow

  • suspension of debt recovery actions

  • extensions and payment plans.

As an example, Waverley Council will review its financial hardship policy and implement a process for considering applications for other forms of assistance, including deferred rate payments with no interest charge.

Packages

Eight LGAs have stated that there will be a relief packages set up to support businesses that will include a mix of projects and relief measures. As an example, Camden’s package will have three stages to be rolled out over the next six months. Stage Three, or the recovery phase of the package, will be tailored in coming weeks, once the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the Camden community becomes clearer. It will include a mix of major projects, events and activations and grants and financial support mechanisms for business and community groups.

Campaigns

Six LGAs had dedicated campaigns focused on community and buying local. Campaigns included “Burwood Cares” (Burwood), “Keep it local” (Waverley), “Love Local” (Canada Bay), #LoveLivo (Liverpool) as well as social media campaigns to support local businesses and boost positivity in the community (Camden).

Waiving Fees

Five Councils have stated having had waived fees to help businesses cope with the financial impacts derived from COVID19, they include Canada Bay, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, North Sydney and Mosman.

Specific actions are listed below:

  • An automatic one-month interest free extension on residents’ fourth rates instalments amount (Canada Bay)

  • Suspension of health inspection fees and outdoor dining permits until further notice and the refund of any fees paid since 1 April 2020 (Liverpool)

  • Waived fees for facilities and services (Canterbury-Bankstown)

  • Policy that identifies support and/or waivers of lease fees or charges that Council will provide to community groups and businesses impacted by the Government response to COVID-19. Particularly those impacted by enforced closures (North Sydney)

  • Fees and charges associated with outdoor dining and displays and booking cancellations have been waived and Council is offering significant rent reductions to its commercial tenants (Mosman).

Stronger role of Councils in recovery

Four Councils have stated the need for a stronger role in business COVID recovery including Georges River, Inner West and Randwick. Georges River has had swift assistance with approval of economic and social recovery plan.  The Inner West Council is looking for members for its new economic recovery taskforce through an Expression of Interest process. This taskforce will help Council plan and coordinate the economic recovery of the Inner West. Randwick has increased its borrowings from $6.5M to $14.5M to invest directly in capital works improvement projects to stimulate the local economy and create jobs.

Data

Three Councils have undertaken the task to collect data to monitor business activity during COVID times, they include Hunters Hill, The Hills Shire Council and Fairfield. Hunters Hill Council has created an “Open for business map” which aims to list which businesses remain operational. It has been built with Google Maps. As another example, The Hills Shire Council, in partnership with the Sydney Hills Business Chamber and executed by McCrindle Research, conducts an annual Business Performance and Sentiment Index (PSI) for the Hills region. Although this index was implemented before COVID, it is an example of how to use data to measure business performance and sentiment. Another example includes Fairfield undertaking mapping of Industrial Land Use.

Individual actions taken by LGAs

Some LGAs took actions individually such as:

  • Acknowledgement of front facing staff who have provided a wide range of essential services (Bayside Council)

  • Council endorses Local Government NSW's campaign to obtain financial assistance and signatory of Local Government Splinter award. This agreement provides financial protections for staff who are stood down because of health crisis. (Bayside Council)

  • Establishment of an Expert Independent Advisory Panel for economic development. Additionally, stated the need for new revitalised governance model to drive economic recovery and sustainable economic development.  (Blue Mountains)

  • Council wrote to all residents in English and Chinese to urge them to comply with self-isolation and social distancing (Burwood)

  • COVID19 Legislation Amendment by the NSW Government that gives Planning Minister powers to exempt development from planning requirements (Lane Cove)

  • Customer care calls to check-in and offer support and assistance (Lane Cove)

  • Establishment of a new internally restricted reserve called COVID-19 budget response reserve (Blacktown)

 

Calls for action

Some LGAs expressed individual calls of action that include calls for:

  • Call to State and Federal Government to deliver financial support and stimulus packages to Local Government (Bayside Council)

  • COVID19 Financial Hardship Assistance Policy to be adopted (Fairfield)

  • Help for vulnerable communities especially asylum seekers (Cumberland)

  • Support for international students (Cumberland)

  • Adoption of the economic and social recovery plan valued at $47 million (Georges River)

  • Reduction of all rates (Fairfield).

 

Example 1. Liverpool City Council

 

Liverpool City Council has provided support to businesses in the shape of fee waiving, financial assistance, grants, and campaigns. In terms of fees, Liverpool City Council has suspended health inspection fees and outdoor dining permits as well as having relaxed parking fees and rules. Financial assistance has been provided by suspending debt recovery actions. Liverpool City Council has a business support webpage and a business assistance document to help businesses access important information about navigating through COVID19. In terms of grants, Liverpool City Council has implemented the Business Resilience Grants, of up to $5,000 to help businesses develop or strengthen their online strategy. Additionally, Liverpool City Council has developed a business-to-consumer program in response to disrupted supply chains. Finally, a “Support Local” campaign was implemented, with the tagline #LoveLivo to encourage the community to purchase goods, services, and gift vouchers from local businesses.

 

 

 

 

Example 2. Blue Mountains City Council

 

The Blue Mountains City Council has provided businesses with support by providing businesses with training opportunities. It is supporting its population with over 800 online fitness workouts. Additionally, the Blue Mountains City of the Arts Trust launched a new grant program to support local artists. Finally, the Blue Mountains City Council has led the way in terms of reducing climate change related activities as it has taken advantage of the closure of some facilities during the COVID19 pandemic to finish the installation of solar panels to reduce its footprint.

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