City of Sydney to nearly double crisis relief package to $47 million

The City of Sydney is set to almost double its relief package to nearly $47 million for small businesses, artists and others in the creative and community sectors left devastated by the loss of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The emergency relief will come on top of plans to speed up $25 million in capital works, upgrades to footpaths and other infrastructure scheduled for the coming years to help stimulate work and cushion the blow from mass job layoffs and recession.

Lord mayor Clover Moore, who has a majority on council, has proposed expanding the council’s “Business, Arts and Create package” to include new funding programs to support businesses, cultural and creative organisations during the crisis.

Sydney streets have become almost deserted as people stay at home.Credit:Louise Kennerley

"Those who work in our creative, arts and entertainment industries are facing months of cancelled events, lost income and uncertainty," she said.

"Facilities are closing, and opportunities to work are rapidly diminishing."

The new funding programs include $2.25 million in immediate financial support for not-for-profit and sole traders reliant on grants and project-based funds to keep staff and pay their artists.

A $1 million fund will also support artists to engage in creative development of works driven by the cultural sector, and to purchase materials and equipment.

Another $250,000 fund will provide direct donations to locally operated online platforms which raise money to offer emergency relief to "cultural workers in crisis".

In a sign of the economic impact the pandemic will have on the finances of councils across the city, the City of Sydney estimates its revenue will plunge by up to $75 million over the next six months.

The City of Sydney also anticipates a cashflow squeeze as the council defers payment of rates for residents and businesses that need relief.

Councillors will vote on an expansion of the stimulus on Monday night at an extraordinary meeting. Liberal councillors Christine Forster and Craig Chung have also put forward motions for measures to boost support for communities and small businesses devastated by the impact of coronavirus.

Cr Moore's proposal also includes measures to assist businesses through mechanisms such as a $2 million grants program to help them adjust their operating models.

Other councils across Sydney including Ryde and Randwick have been rolling out a series of relief packages for their communities.

Randwick Council's $2.3 million support package includes rental relief for business tenants and not-for-profit community groups occupying council-owned properties, and waiving a range of fees such as those for outdoor dining and fire safety inspections.

The relief measures follow a second stimulus package from the Berejiklian government, which will see $750 million spent on keeping businesses afloat, creating new jobs and retraining employees.

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