Get the latest on COVID-19 Small Business Relief initiatives and interventions by the government and the private sector.

Arts Dept Working on Third Phase Relief Funding

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture says it is fast tracking a third phase of small business relief funding for the industry. This is to alleviate pressure on those hard hit by the ongoing lockdown.

To date, the department has implemented the first and second phases of the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Nearly 5 000 practitioners were recommended for the first phase and over R80 million was paid out to the sector.

In the second phase and as of 14 December 2020, over R2 million was paid out to practitioners in the sector.

The department said 3 658 practitioners benefitted from the Solidarity Fund, with a total of nearly R9 million that was paid out.

Over R5 million was paid out to practitioners within the sector, Through the department’s partnership with the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD). A further estimated R13 million is to be disbursed by the end of March 2021.

There are several interventions being implemented by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) throughout the country. These are geared towards job retention and job creation.

The National Arts Council (NAC) has since approved a total of 352 applications for job retention, comprising 200 organisations and 152 individual beneficiaries.

The entity also approved a total of 126 applications for job creation that is comprised of 66 individual applications and 60 organisations.

From this approval 2 475 jobs will be retained and a further 3 453 jobs will be created. Final results from the NAC of pending applications will be released before the end of January 2020.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is also in the process of adjudicating 891 applications that were received by the closing date of 10 December 2020.

The department will provide further updates as the process unfolds.

“In spite of our best efforts, the department is fully cognisant of the fact that there are many others who did not benefit from these programmes, given the department’s finite budget.

“With that said, we have and will continue to engage national organisations, in line with our open door policy.

“The department, alongside the appointed service provider, is also developing the rollout of an implementation plan to provide an Artist Wellness Programme to the sector… and will also provide other enhancement interventions such as personal or business financial management, legal support and lifestyle management.

“Information on the third phase of the COVID-19 Relief Fund, as well the Artist Wellness Programme, will be issued in due course,” Minister Nathi Mthethwa said. -SAnews.gov.za

See also: COVID-19 Small Business Relief Packages Updates + Reasons Applications Are Rejected

Employment and Labour eliminates queues at Labour Centres by relaxing UIF processes

The Department of Employment and Labour is relaxing some of its processes in a bid to help curb the spread of Covid-19 and to prevent turning needs for services into super-spreaders.

Through its entity, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the Department in the Eastern Cape, one of the worst affected provinces, has set out key interventions to address service delivery issues and reduce the number of clients visiting Labour Centres by relaxing adherence to its processes.

Large scale shedding of jobs in the economy, clients submitting continuation forms, UIF-enquiries such as; status of applications, credit days, payment dates and amounts have been identified as contributing factors to long queues which could possibly increase cross-infection of Coronavirus.

In eliminating all the red tape whilst limiting queues at Labour Offices, the UIF will be dealing with employers who will be retrenching directly for collection of documents and taking/capturing of UIF employee applications.

Clients who are receiving unemployment benefits are not expected to go to the Department on a monthly basis to sign a continuation form. They will be paid by the Fund as per pay sheet using statistics of the previous month. There will also use an SMS- functionality to inform clients of the status of their application so that they do not visit the department for such enquiries.

The UIF will also implement an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) functionality from the 30 January 2021 which will enable clients to follow-up on their claims.

“Occupational Health and Safety remains the core business of the Department and in protecting both the employees and clients, the Department will put necessary measures and reduce the spread of Coronavirus by allowing claims to be paid without mandatory source documents pending that everything is verified and correct”, said Chief Director: Provincial Operations; Ms Nomfundo Douw- Jack.

In the unfortunate event of an employee contracting the Coronavirus as a direct result of the work, a manual or online claim can be lodged using the following details: Compensation Fund: covid19claims@labour.gov.za(link sends e-mail) or phone 0860 105 350 or CompEasy (www.labour.gov.za)

Clients are also encouraged to make use of the Departments’ online services by logging on to www.labour.gov.za

See also: COVID-19: Small Business Relief and Other Government and Private Sector Interventions for SMEs

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