Report highlights: Grants administration for disaster relief

What the report is about

The report examined whether NSW Treasury, Service NSW and the Department of Customer Service effectively administered grants programs funded under the $750 million Small Business Support Fund, including:

  • $10,000 Small Business Support Grant
  • $3,000 Small Business Recovery Grant.

What we found

The agencies effectively implemented the grants within required timeframes, reflecting the NSW Government’s decision to deliver urgent financial support to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSW Treasury met urgent timeframes to design the grants and Service NSW made timely payments in line with the grants' objectives and eligibility criteria.

Service NSW and the Department of Customer Service strengthened processes to detect and minimise fraud in response to identified external fraud risks, and to investigate suspected fraudulent applications.

Fraud security checks and investigations are ongoing, and the agencies will not know the full extent of fraud across the grants until these processes have been completed.

The agencies regularly monitored and reported on the timeliness of payments to small business applicants but have not yet measured all benefits of the grants programs.

The $10,000 Support Grant and the $3,000 Recovery Grant have provided around $630 million in one off grant payments to eligible small businesses.

What we recommended

NSW Treasury should finalise and implement an evaluation of both grants programs, including obtaining feedback from businesses.

Service NSW should develop a framework that documents expected controls for how it administers grants, including business processes, fraud control and governance and probity requirements.

Service NSW should publish information on all grants programs, including grants distribution and uptake.

The Department of Customer Service should ensure its processes for managing conflicts of interest meets its policy requirements.

Upcoming performance audit

The Audit Office is conducting a further performance audit into grants administration for disaster relief focussing on bushfire grants. This is planned to complete in 2021-22.

Fast facts

Small Business Support Fund
  • $630m Grant payments made to small businesses under two grants administered
  • Over 52,500 Applications received a $10,000 Grant payment
  • Over 23,000 Businesses paid both $10,000 Support Grant and $3,000 Recovery Grant
  • 36,700 Applications received a $3,000 grant payment
Grant program administration
  • 11 Days taken to deliver the $10,000 Small Business Support Grant application website
  • 26 Days taken to deliver the $3,000 Small Business Recovery Grant application website

Further information

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