A $475,000 assistance package is being developed by Singleton Council to support local businesses and the community deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Council is working with the Singleton Business Chamber to develop a $250,000 business support package, using money from the Community Economic Development Fund as well as bushfire grant funding to pool resources for the benefit of people across the local government area.
Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore said the Community Economic Development Fund was designed to help deliver economic development and social development outcomes across the whole of the local government area.
The allocation of funds will require a formal resolution of Council at the Ordinary April meeting, in whatever format the meeting proceeds.
"The proposal to combine the bushfire grant money with an extra $125,000 from the fund adds up to $250,000 to get programs running on the ground right now, right here in our local government area to support our local businesses," Cr Moore said.
"We also propose to allocate a further $125,000 to add to $100,000 from bushfire grant funds for a similar program targeting social issues arising from the current crisis, taking the total for both packages to $475,000.
"Council's foresight in creating the fund, using Voluntary Planning Agreement money, has allowed us to be in a position to fund these programs.
"And although we never thought we'd need to spend some of the capital this early, we are in a position where we can and should take action to allocate some of the funding right now."
Singleton Business Chamber president Sue Gilroy said with businesses already dealing with bushfire impacts, nobody could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic that was to come.
"These are unprecedented circumstances, and this is a great example of the proactive relationship between Council and the Chamber for the benefit of our local business community," she said.
"We are fortunate to have these resources available to us to develop a package of measures to put in place now, in addition to the assistance coming from the Federal Government for small businesses and their staff."
General Manager Jason Linnane said an announcement about a raft of social programs to help members of the community in these very tough times would be made next week.
"We will be working very closely with Council's Interagency to identify and address social issues arising from the impacts of COVID-19," he said.
"There is no way to overstate the challenges of the unprecedented situation the whole world is in at the moment, and Council is still working hard to support our community as best we can."