Whether you run a household or a small business, the WA Government wants to ensure you can “batten down the hatches” and ride out the significant financial hardship the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to wreak.
Today it announced a billion-dollar economic and health stimulus package it hopes will help keep businesses afloat and householders remain connected to essential services.
Here’s how it will affect you.
What if I’ve lost my job?
The Government says it doesn’t want anybody’s power or water cut off because they have lost their job in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its $25 million Energy Assistance Payment [EAP] package will give you a $305 credit towards your electricity bill starting in May, and a further $305 over the course of the rest of the year.
“When someone has just lost their job, the last thing I want them worrying about is paying their power or water bill,” Premier Mark McGowan said today.
If you have to defer paying your Synergy or Horizon power bills, or your water account because of financial hardship, no interest will be charged.
You’ve got until September 30 to apply for the EAP.
There’s also help at hand if you’re having trouble paying a range of other state bills and taxes.
- Stamp or transfer duty
- Landholder duty
- Vehicle licence duty
- Land tax
The Premier says you can apply for an interest-free payment arrangement and have any late payment penalties waived.
What if I’ve bought a house under the Keystart scheme?
If you’re having problems paying your Keystart loan repayments, the good news is the Government is waiving interest payments for up to six months, and deferring principal repayments.
This is on a case-by-case basis though, and you’ll have to fit the criteria of the hardship assessment policy.
For example, if you’ve borrowed $350,000 over 30 years, you can defer repayments of about $10,690 over six months and could potentially save more than $10,000 in interest payments if your loan is recently established.
Again, this applies until September 30.
COVID-19 is crippling my retail business. Will I get help?
Small and medium-sized businesses that use less than 50 megawatt hours of electricity are in for some relief too.
Business owners in this category are eligible for a one-off $2,500 credit with Synergy or Horizon Power, starting from May 1.
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak
- Download the ABC News app and subscribe to our range of news alerts for the latest on how the pandemic is impacting the world
- You can also get up-to-date information on the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government’s WhatsApp channel.
Payroll tax will be waived between March 1 and June 30 this year for businesses with wage bills of less than $7.5 million.
Like householders, businesses facing financial hardship will not have their power or water disconnected and no interest will be charged for late payments.
What if I’m a tourism operator/bar owner/builder/taxi driver?
As well as the above measures, a range of licensing fees are also being waived.
This measure is aimed at businesses most impacted by COVID-19 like tourism and hospitality.
Fees being waived include:
- Licensing for building services, plumbers and electricians
- Tourism businesses in national parks
- Boat registration fees for tourism operators and commercial fishers
- Taxi booking service authorisation fees
- Liquor licence renewals
- Settlement agent licence fees
How will charities and community service providers be helped?
WA has thousands of charities and community service providers, many of whom have had to close their doors or suspend services during the current crisis.
Nearly 3,000 of these will have their power bills reduced with a one-off $2,500 credit towards their Synergy or Horizon Power accounts.
The Government says it will continue to pay community service providers until at least the end of the financial year, even when they’re unable to provide services because of COVID-19.
These measures are on top of a $159 million Crisis Relief Fund announced on Monday to support not-for-profit sport, arts and community groups.
How are health services being boosted?
An extra $500 million is being injected into health and frontline services.
This will fund more:
- Personal protective equipment
- Hospital beds
Mr McGowan said this year’s state budget had been deferred until October to allow the Government to focus on COVID-19.
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