Report highlights: COVID-19: response, recovery and impact

What the report is about

This report draws together the financial impact of COVID-19 on the agencies which were integral to the response across the state government sector of New South Wales.

What we found

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit NSW in January 2020 until 30 June 2021, $7.5 billion has been spent by state government agencies for health and economic stimulus. The response was largely funded by borrowings.

The key areas of spending since the start of COVID-19 in NSW to 30 June 2021 were:

  • direct health response measures – $2.2 billion
  • personal protective equipment – $1.4 billion
  • small business grants – $795 million
  • quarantine costs – $613 million
  • cleaning costs – increases in employee expenses and cleaning costs across most clusters
  • establish and distribute vaccines, including vaccination hubs – $71 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the financial performance and position of state government agencies.

Decreases in revenue from providing goods and services were offset by increases in appropriations, grants and contributions, for health and economic stimulus funding in response to the pandemic.

Most agencies had expense growth, due to additional operating requirements to manage and respond to the pandemic along with implementing new or expanded stimulus programs and initiatives.

Response measures for COVID-19 have meant the NSW Government is unlikely to meet targets in the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2012 being:

  • annual expense growth kept below long-term average revenue growth
  • elimination of State’s unfunded superannuation liability by 2030.

 Fast facts

  • First COVID-19 case in NSW on 25 January 2020.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations commenced on 21 February 2021.
  • By 31 December 2021, 25.2 million PCR tests had been performed in NSW and 13.6 million vaccines administered, with 93.6% of the 16 and over population receiving two doses.
  • During 2020–21, NSW Health employed an extra 4,893 full-time staff and incurred $28 million in overtime mainly in response to COVID-19.
  • During 2020–21, $1.2 billion was spent on direct health COVID-19 response measures and $532 million was spent on quarantine for incoming international travellers.

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.