Hunter businesses urged to check out NSW bushfire assistance eligibility

A bushfire at North Rothbury in November. Picture: Marina Neil
A bushfire at North Rothbury in November. Picture: Marina Neil

HUNTER businesses have been urged to check their eligibility for assistance after bushfires seared parts of the region.

The Hunter Business Chamber has advised operators in Cessnock, Singleton and Mid-Coast local government areas (LGAs) they may be eligible for disaster recovery grants through the Rural Assistance Authority.

Those grants are open to businesses in areas affected by bushfire that suffered direct damage to premises or tools. Businesses can claim up to $15,000 for clean-up and immediate restoration.

"Results from a government bushfire impact survey show that a majority of business owners are not aware of grants and support available to help them through this crisis, with less than 2 per cent of small businesses surveyed in fire-affected areas applying for available assistance packages," the chamber's policy and public affairs manager Amy De Lore said.

The chamber is also offering free employment law advice to bushfire-affected employers by calling 13 29 59 and for other issues at 13 26 96.

Both the Hunter and NSW business chambers have been compiling information on disruption to trade in bushfire-struck areas, which was expected to be put to a federal government small business recovery round table in Canberra on Tuesday.

Separately, NSW Labor deputy leader and Swansea MP Yasmin Catley urged those seeking services after the devastation of bushfires to act cautiously.

"Unfortunately, while many in our community, across the state, pull together to support the survivors of a natural disaster, some unscrupulous operators see a way to make a quick buck," Ms Catley said.

"Nobody who has been through a bushfire disaster should have to worry that they will be swindled during their rebuild."