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The owners of a family business that has operated for more than 30 years say they face the possibility of closure after JobKeeper ends next month. Mark Horsley, co-owner of Dapto-based Leisure Coast Limousines, described the year since the COVID-19 pandemic struck as “hell”. They had lost two-thirds of their business, Mr Horsley said, and in the first week of the crisis alone they processed $10,500 in refunds. Read more: ‘We shouldn’t punish people’: Calls to boost JobSeeker continue The business has gone from 32 to 23 drivers, all casuals, and last year an office employee was let go. But the federal government’s JobKeeper subsidy offered a lifeline to the business. “Without JobKeeper, we would have closed up shop,” Mr Horsley said. However, the scheme is due to end on March 28. Mr Horsley said come next month, he would be faced with the task of laying off his own son, Chad, who works as a mechanic. Without JobKeeper or work picking up, he said, “I don’t know what we’re going to do”. “We’ve diversified to try meet the need, but we need more assistance from the government,” Mr Horsley said. He said there was no longer any business from cruise ships or international travel, and even within Australia, people did not have the confidence to travel interstate. Read more: Woman escapes with $500 fine over violent Wollongong street brawl Those that did travel drove, he said, which was of no help to them. Mr Horsley said weddings had started to pick up again, but were still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels. He wants to see JobKeeper extended and eligibility assessed according to each business’ current situation. Mr Horsley’s comments come as new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the rate of growth in the number of businesses in Wollongong has slowed. Between June 2018 and June 2019, the number of businesses operating in the local government area grew by 3.1 per cent. However, in the year to June 2020, the number of businesses rose by 1.4 per cent. Growth remained steady in Shellharbour, but Kiama saw the number of businesses in the municipality drop by 1.5 per cent between June 2019 and June 2020. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s office has been contacted for comment. Read more: Real estate, social media and gaming: The 20 new subjects available in Illawarra high schools We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
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