The centrepiece of the NSW 2020-21 budget, which will be announced later today, Tuesday 17 November, will be a $500 million “Out and About” voucher scheme. Under this program, the NSW Government will gift every adult in the state $100 to spend on dining and entertainment in a bid to resuscitate some of the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19.
The initiative aims to encourage visits to struggling cafes, restaurants and cultural institutions, and to keep the economy flowing after Christmas.
How will it work?
Anyone over the age of 18 will receive four $25 vouchers through the Service NSW mobile app.
Two of the vouchers can be redeemed in restaurants, cafes and clubs and two vouchers can be used for entertainment facilities like art galleries, theatres, cinemas, zoos and amusement parks.
The vouchers can’t be used for retail or on products such as alcohol, gambling and cigarettes.
They can only be used at COVID-safe businesses that sign on to the scheme.
The four vouchers can’t be combined and each voucher can be used only once, which means if the spend is less than $25 the remaining amount will expire.
There may be restrictions as to when the vouchers can be used. For example, the government is exploring limiting the use of the dining vouchers to less busy days such as Monday to Thursday to better manage COVID-19 restrictions. More to follow on this.
When will the scheme go live?
The NSW Government will run a trial of the program in the Sydney CBD over December, before a full rollout in early 2021. It’s hoped this CBD trial will help to iron out any issues, and identify redemption rules that will best help businesses in their recovery.
What else will the budget include?
Other measures announced ahead of the budget include $112.4 million over four years to double the number of overseas trade missions, $112 million for accessibility upgrades at train stations and $39.3 million to continue the Business Connect program until 2024.
The government will also bring forward or boost funding for new roads such as the Sydney Gateway and an expansion of Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick, in a bid to minimise unemployment which is tipped to peak at 7.5% in the December 2020 quarter.
A $10 million back-to-work program is also in plan which will give women grants of up to $5,000 to help them back into the workforce.