The Federal and Victorian governments will fund a joint support package to give Victorian small and medium businesses the extra help they need to recover from the recent lockdown.
The new Victorian Business Support Package will deliver an additional $400 million in support to thousands of businesses, with funding to be split 50/50 between the Federal and Victorian governments.
The package includes a new $85 million Small Business COVID Hardship Fund and $156 million Business Continuity Fund, as well as delivering support for commercial tenants and landlords.
It will also build upon support packages previously announced by the Victorian government to assist licenced hospitality and alpine venues, with $70 million for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 and $9.8 million for Alpine Business Support.
The programs will be administered by the Victorian Government.
Heavy losses loom
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Victorian businesses had borne the brunt of the heavy cost of lockdowns that kept the state and Australia safe.
“Last year, Victoria and our nation faced heavy blows from COVID, but with the right supports in place our economy and businesses came back strongly and a million people returned to work,” he said.
“We will continue to do what is necessary to support Victorian businesses as we face the evolving challenges of COVID-19.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said the package was all about protecting and growing jobs to support Victoria’s economic recovery.
“With this funding we’ll continue driving jobs and economic recovery here in Victoria, and for the nation,” he said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Victorian businesses are among the hardest hit in the nation.
“No amount of support can make up for what business owners have experienced over the last year and half, but this latest package will support them as they reopen after this latest lockdown,” he said.
Five key elements make up the support package to help businesses deal with ongoing public health restrictions.
Business Continuity Fund
A $156 million Business Continuity Fund will be established to deliver $5,000 grants to up to around 30,000 businesses that remain impacted by capacity limits placed on businesses by necessary public health restrictions.
Twenty-four eligible sectors are covered by the fund including gyms, cafes, restaurants, catering services and hairdressers.
Recognising businesses located in the CBD will continue to be impacted due to restrictions on the number of staff allowed in office buildings, they will be eligible to receive an additional $2,000 recognising reduced foot traffic due to office density limits.
All recipients must have received or been eligible for the previous Business Cost Assistance Program.
Hospitality Venue Fund
The Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund will receive a $70 million boost, with grants of up to $20,000 to be made available to support licensed venues as their operations continue to be impacted by current restrictions.
These grants recognise that larger venues depend more on dine-in and have higher operating costs, so need more support than smaller operations.
Again an additional $2,000 will also be made available to the business if it is located within the CBD.
To receive this funding, venues will need to have received or been eligible for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021.
Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme and Landlord Hardship Fund
The package, to be fully funded by the Victorian Government, will deliver $80 million to provide support to landlords that provide rent relief to their tenants.
The Commercial Tenancies Relief Scheme will be reinstated to provide much needed rent relief to small to medium commercial tenants and their landlords with more details on the roll out to be provided by the Victorian Government soon.
Small Business Hardship Fund
A new $85 million fund will be established to support small businesses who have not been eligible under existing business support funds.
Small businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million who have experienced a 70 per cent or greater reduction in revenue will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000.
Alpine Business Support
Alpine Business Support will receive a further $9.8 million to deliver grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to 430 Alpine based businesses in recognition of restricted inter and intra-state travel during the peak winter season.
The funding also includes an additional $5 million support to alpine resort operators and management boards.