Councils have welcomed the NSW Government’s agreement to provide financial support to the local government sector, but warned the money must flow quickly and efficiently if jobs are to be saved.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott welcomed this week’s announcement, which will see the reinstatement of last year’s Council Job Retention Allowance (CJRA).
“While businesses and individuals are able to access the State and Federal government’s $5.1 billion COVID support funding, local government has been ineligible for any of it,” Cr Scott said.
“As a result, our councils are being forced to stand down hundreds of staff due to the closure of libraries and recreational and other facilities and are struggling to keep people employed.
“This CJRA funding will not only save jobs, it will also ensure the retention of vital council services such as keeping parks and community facilities clean and safe in the middle of a pandemic.
“And there is a flow-on benefit for the private sector, as local government workers spend their wages to support small local businesses and help keep those jobs going.”
Cr Scott warned that the key to the success of these efforts was ensuring the money flowed quickly and efficiently, rather than sitting idle in Government coffers because the criteria was too restrictive.
“We need to take lessons from the last rollout of this money,” she said.
“The criteria for that CJRA rollout were so convoluted and restrictive that many councils could not take advantage of them.
“Only $479,000 out of an initial $112.5 million allocation could be accessed – that’s less than 1% of the total available funds.
“Making those unspent funds easily accessible now is urgent and important – but unless it gets out the door fast it will fail in its objective of saving jobs and supporting local communities.”