Small businesses across Victoria, especially those located in Melbourne, are feeling the pressure of the 6th (yes, 6th!) lockdown.
At this stage, the lockdown is due to end on Thursday 19 August. During this time, residents of lockdown zones are only permitted to leave the house for essential reasons. To assist small businesses across the state doing it tough during this time, the Victorian government has announced several areas of financial relief for those impacted.
Let’s unpack the latest announcements, including what small business grants your business may be eligible for and how you can support your staff during this stressful time.
What’s included in the latest package?
The $400 million package was announced by the government on Friday 6 August, and consists of renewed funding for three existing programs, plus the introduction of two new programs.
The Business Costs Assistance Grant
The Business Costs Assistance Grant has been extended to round three, with recipients of round two receiving an additional grant of $2800. These grants will be automatically paid to recipients of round two grants, so no further action is required for existing recipients.
If you have recently become eligible for the grant, you can apply to receive funds under the round two extension until August 13.
Is my business eligible for the Business Costs Assistance Grant?
If you’re looking to apply for the grant under the round two extension, consider the eligibility criteria.
Your business must:
- Be located within Victoria
- Be registered as operating in an eligible sector – check the list here
- Have incurred costs as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and the business cannot operate remotely
- Have an annual Victorian payroll of up to $10 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis
- Be registered for GST as of 15 July 2021
- Hold and have held an Australian Business Number as of 15 July 2021
- Be registered with the appropriate Federal or State regulator
Licensed hospitality venue fund
Hospitality businesses in Melbourne and regional Victoria that received funding support from the Licensed Hospitality Fund through the May/June and July lockdowns will receive another payment.
Similarly to the Business Costs Assistance Program, recipients will receive automatic payments so no further action is required by businesses. This fund has not been extended so there is not an opportunity to receive the fund if you have recently become eligible.
Alpine Resorts Winter Support Program
The Alpine Industry will also see relief for a greatly reduced winter season. Businesses located in the alpine region may be eligible for further payments of $5000 (off-mountain) or $20,000 (employing businesses, on mountain).
Eligible businesses will be contacted by phone by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. More information and guidelines on how to apply will be provided. If you do not receive a phone call but believe you should have, you should contact email@example.com
Small Business COVID Hardship Fund
The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund is the new offering in this latest round of business support.
The fund offers grants of up to $8000 to small businesses that have experienced at least a 70% reduction in turnover. This will be paid to businesses that are not eligible for other support under existing programs.
More information about this fund, including further eligibility requirements, will be available on business.vic.gov.au in the coming days.
Commercial rent relief
Businesses that have experienced a loss in turnover of at least 30% due to the lockdowns are guaranteed to receive rent relief. Landlords will be required to provide proportional rent relief in line with the reduction of turnover. Separate support will be provided to landlords.
Tenants and landlords are encouraged to negotiate directly, with the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) available to step in if parties cant reach an agreement. Landlords will not be able to issue an eviction notice without obtaining a direction from the VSBC.
Separate support will be provided to landlords. To help landlords that are providing relief to eligible tenants, the government will provide land tax relief of up to 25%, in addition to any previous relief.
The guarantee is backdated from Wednesday 29th July. Tenants and landlords can both find more information here.
What government support is available for casual workers?
The federal government also announced the Covid-19 Disaster Payment support package for individuals, with payments available from 1 July, 2021. To learn more and apply, workers must visit servicesaustralia.gov.au.
Which casual workers are eligible for government support payments?
Casual workers that are located in a lockdown zones may be eligible for the weekly support payment.
To receive $500, workers must work more than 20 hours a week when not locked down. Workers who work fewer than 20 hours a week will receive $325.
To be eligible, workers must also meet these additional requirements;
- They must be an Australian resident or hold an eligible working visa
- They must be 17 years or older
- They must not already receive an income support payment, the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, a state or territory pandemic payment or a state small business payment for the same period
- They must live or work in a Commonwealth-declared Covid-19 hotspot
- They must have had paid employment prior to the stay at home orders and because of the lockdown they can’t attend work on or after day 8 of lockdown
- They’ve lost income on or after day 8 of lockdown and don’t have any appropriate paid leave entitlements
More help for businesses;
We wish your business all the best in weathering the latest Covid-19 lockdown. To help you get through this tough period, we’ve collected our best resources for small businesses.
If you’re looking for more information and support during this time, visit the Employment Hero Covid-19 Resource Hub.