Warwick businesses could face JobKeeper fallout
WARWICK has reported the highest number of JobKeeper applications on the Southern Downs, sparking fears that the stimulus' impending cancellation could have a severe local impact.
New Treasury data has revealed that 548 businesses within the 4370 postcode applied for package in April alone, many of whom could be left in the lurch if the stimulus is canned after its government review on July 23.
The Physiotherapy Centre practice manager Katie Hay said they applied for the stimulus after huge numbers of cancelled appointments meant they were struggling to find work for many of their staff.
"COVID does make it tricky to make things viable because there's a lot of cancellations, if customers or staff have a sore throat or anything, they have to cancel straight away," Mrs Hay said.
"Sadly, not all of our staff were entitled because we've had such growth in the last 12 months, but the amount we were able to receive has assisted to some degree.
"It certainly has been stressful, trying to remain viable, but it's also made us look at certain costs and ask what we could do away with."
One of Warwick's main providers of physiotherapy and other allied health services, Mrs Hay said the centre's long-term future with or without JobKeeper remained somewhat uncertain.
"We certainly appreciate what we've been able to receive, but we don't know what will happen if another wave of the virus comes through," she said.
"On the other hand, the government is dishing out millions and we'll have to pay it back through tax at some point.
"(Another outbreak) is always in the back of your mind, but we have a better idea now of how to plan for it, such as focusing on Telehealth and diversifying the services that we offer."
Warwick's Gardens Galore owner Sue Hoffman agreed, saying the JobKeeper payments had proved essential for keeping as many staff on as possible.
"JobKeeper's one of those things where it isn't just this pile of money, we have to pay our staff first and keep them going," Mrs Hoffman said.
"We needed our staff, and it was important to me to keep them on so we could keep the business functioning properly and everything like that.
"We have put a marathon effort into keeping the business going, but 'normal' is an unknown quantity right now and we need to keep taking it step by step."
Both businesswomen agreed that regardless of the outcome of the JobKeeper scheme, they had faith that the Warwick community's unwavering support for local businesses could keep them going.
"Since reopening for dining, we've been so busy and run off our feet, with people from Warwick and also far and wide over Queensland," Mrs Hoffman said.
"That's why we're all here, we want to be here at the end with this successful, wonderful business that we can have here for the customers to come in and have a good coffee or a meal.
"It makes you feel like all the hard work, all the sacrifice, it worth it."