Restaurant & Catering Australia has welcomed ‘Out & About’ vouchers as a way to boost NSW hospitality businesses as part of a landmark package of measures designed to help the restaurant, café and catering sector get back on its feet after a horror year due brought about by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A centrepiece of the NSW Budget is the announcement of a $500 million ‘Out & About’ Voucher scheme which will give every NSW resident aged 18 and over four $25 vouchers worth $100 in total – with two vouchers able to be used for eating in venues such as restaurants, cafes, clubs and other food service venues. The program will be run through Service NSW with a CBD trial expected to commence in December 2020 before rolling out across the state.
Wes Lambert, CEO of R&CA said that the NSW Budget provides a strong foundation for hospitality businesses to build on as the state seeks to recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“2020 has been a year full of immense challenges for the restaurant, café and catering sector and this budget recognises just how hard our sector has been hit by the pandemic”, Mr Lambert said.
“Without a doubt the most important thing this budget does is stimulate customer demand and consumer spending in hospitality businesses. While cash support and grants are welcome the best way to get the economy back on track is to get people spending, and ‘Out and About’ is perfectly targeted to do that.
“R&CA put forward a bold stimulus plan to National Cabinet in August that included a $100 voucher for eligible residents to help the broader hospitality industry get back on its feet and was modelled off of the UK Government’s ‘Eat out to Help Out’ scheme.
“We are ecstatic that the NSW Government has adopted this proposal and has sought to extend the voucher to the broader entertainment and tourism industry as well.
“For so many businesses worried about the impending end of JobKeeper program, this program provides a soft landing as we transition out of crisis and into recovery, and sets NSW up to lead the nation as we come out of one of the most economically devastating periods in a century.
“We look forward to working closely with the NSW Government and Service NSW to ensure this program can be delivered smoothly and with high customer satisfaction”, Mr Lambert said.
Other measures announced as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget that will positively impact the restaurant, café and catering industry includes:
- The Payroll Tax threshold permanently increased from $1 million to $1.2 million;
- A temporary lowering of the lowering the payroll tax rate from 5.45 per cent to 4.85 per cent for a two-year period (backdated to 1 July 2020);
- $472 million for small and medium sized businesses across NSW to access $1,500 worth of digital vouchers which will be available from April 2021 to help pay for government fees and charges as JobKeeper ends;
- $200 million towards driving greater visitation and attracting more events and conferences to NSW;
- $319 million over two years for the Skilling for Recovery Initiative to help job seekers retrain and upskill and help school leavers find work; and
- $39 million to boost funding of the Business Connect program which supports small businesses access targeted business advice and support programs.