Yesterday I received this message from the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock outlining the new stimulus package.
I want to share this with all our members across the local government sector who are doing such an outstanding job during these incredibly challenging times.
Our members are the backbone of our industry and I know how important your role is in making sure the essential services provided by local government continue. I know also that many of you are doing it tough and that is why the USU appreciates the vital support the Minister is providing to our sector which I have passed on to the Minister:
On behalf of the State Executive and our Local Government members I take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for listening and more importantly supporting our wonderful industry and its employees.
As you know the United Services Union appreciates the relationship we have with you and your office that continues to deliver for our communities and local government employees.
Graeme Kelly OAM
United Services Union
The USU welcomes this stimulus package and will be keeping members up to date as more details are known. We have been working closely with the Minister and other industry unions to ensure the industry remains strong and that jobs are protected. In previous correspondence from the Minister she has recognised that commitment:
“My priority is securing support to ensure that councils are able to keep people in jobs. On that note, I want to once again congratulate both LGNSW and the unions for their work on finalising the Local Government (COVID-19) Splinter Award 2020.”
The USU will continue to work to protect our members’ jobs and strengthen the local government sector.
$395 million economic stimulus package safeguards councils during COVID-19
The NSW Government today announced a comprehensive $395 million local government economic stimulus package to reduce the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local councils across the State.
I am confident that the package will help safeguard council jobs, boost infrastructure and service delivery, and trigger economic recovery in our local communities.
The Government is only too aware of the significant financial and operational impacts of the COVI D-19 pandemic on our State’s 128 local councils.
Our local councils are suffering from reduced revenues and increased costs as well as significant challenges in maintaining delivery of community infrastructure and services.
This package will give councils breathing space to adjust their structures and operations and be in a better position to effectively serve their communities during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Councils are a critical part of the NSW economy, especially in many regional and rural towns where they are the largest employers.
That’s why the Government is funding a $112.5 million Council Job Retention Allowance of $1,500 per fortnight per employee for three months to limit job losses in the NSW local government sector.
I have fought hard to secure funding for a State allowance since councils were deemed ineligible for the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper Payment.
The Council Job Retention Allowance will safeguard valuable council jobs and ensure staff with a wide range of skills and experience are retained to continue to serve their communities.
Importantly, local councils will be able to decide which staff are most in need of the allowance and its delivery will be in line with the conditions of the Local Government (COVID-19) Splinter Award 2020, which was negotiated within the sector to provide greater operational flexibility during the crisis.
I am also pleased to announce that the NSW Government will fully fund the $32. 76 million increase in the emergency services levy for all NSW councils for 2020-21.
While we all acknowledge the importance of supporting our emergency services workers, local councils simply cannot afford this financial impost in the wake of COVID-19, bushfires and drought.
Local councils will now be able to redirect these funds to critical core services and deliver much-needed financial support for local communities.
The local government economic stimulus package will also make it easier for local councils to secure low-interest, safe and secure infrastructure loans from TCorp.
We are also increasing the local government lending facility by a further $250 million to $1.35 billion so even more councils and communities can benefit.
As part of the package, councils previously ineligible for TCorp loans can now access the local government lending facility for the next six months.
TCorp will also consider deferring principal and interest payments on council loans upon request for the next six months.
Importantly, this package builds on the NSW Government’s $82 million to support 260 council-run childcare centres and $25 million for local councils to rebuild and refurbish local showgrounds, bringing our total support for the local government sector to over half a billion dollars.
I know you will have many questions about how the various elements of the package will work.
The Office of Local Government (OLG) will be providing further information in coming days and weeks to ensure councils fully understand and realise the benefits. Further information will also be available on the OLG website.
Councils can also contact their Council Engagement Manager with any questions they would like to see answered in the explanatory material that will follow.
I would like to sincerely thank council staff and councillors across the State for their tremendous efforts in supporting their local communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Stay healthy and safe.
Minister for Local Government