JOBKEEPER payments extended to businesses in drought will be a lifeline to Tamworth's agricultural industry as far as Business NSW regional manager Joe Townsend is concerned.
The Australian Tax Office has allowed drought-impacted businesses to apply for the package under an alternative test, after a recent upturn in revenue skewed figures for those who had been in an economic downturn for a long time.
The news comes as the first JobKeeper payments start to trickle through to businesses this week.
"Businesses come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which these measures rightly recognise and that should be commended," Mr Townsend said.
"In 2018, Business NSW first recorded that 84 per cent of businesses had been negatively affected by the drought.
"Despite recent rains generating a small increase in optimism and sales, regional businesses have been facing economic downturn for an extended period."
The alternative test means drought-affected businesses can rely on data from 2018 before the recent uptick in revenue caused by rain at the start of the year.
The $1500 fortnightly payments are expected to be a lifeline to Tamworth businesses that have struggled to keep their doors open due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In NSW the payments alone meet 84 per cent of the average wage for the region, so it's a positive for small business owners who often put staff before themselves when it comes to an income, Mr Townsend said.
"At the moment the employers are appreciative of the $1500 to subsequent labour costs to keep their staff employed," he said.
"For people who are still employed in normal hours and will continue that way, the business has to supplement that extra money above the JobKeeper payment.
"Small businesses are literally happy if they can keep the doors open and keep premises."
Mr Townsend said he encourages any business to have the conversation to make sure it isn't missing out on a payment it could otherwise receive.