As hard as it is to believe, Victoria is once again emerging from another lockdown, the fifth since last March.
With many businesses still struggling to recover from the last four lockdowns and the JobKeeper program finished, the Victorian and Federal Government have announced further support measures to assist certain businesses and individuals. The most recent update was made on 28th July, with announcement of the Victorian and Federal Government’s teaming up on certain funding.
Our summary of what you can seek to access is below.
New Victorian and Federal Government jointly funded packages
The Victorian Government will administer new business support programs to be jointly funded by both Federal and State Government.
Having just been announced, details and applications are light on details. The following was announced by the Prime Minster and Premier:
Business Continuity Fund
To provide grants of $5,000 for businesses that remain impacted by capacity limits. This covers 24 eligible business sectors and is open to businesses that were eligible for the Business Costs Support Program.
Businesses located in CBD will continue to be impacted due to restrictions on the number of staff allowed into office buildings and density limits. These businesses will receive an additional $2,000 due to the impact of reduced foot traffic.
Licensed Hospitality Fund
For those who are eligible for the Licensed Venue Hospitality Fund, grants of up to $20,000 will be made available to support licensed venues businesses. These grants are scaled to the size of venue size as it recognises that larger venues depend more on dine-in and have higher operating costs. Licensed venues within the CBD will receive an additional $2,000.
Small Business COVID Hardship Fund
Small businesses who to date, have not been eligible under existing business support funds will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 under this newly established fund.
To be eligible for this, businesses must have a payroll of up to $10M and have experienced a 70% or greater reduction in revenue.
Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme and Landlord Hardship Fund
The Victorian Government has reinstated the Commercial Tenancies Relief Scheme to provide support to landlords who provide rent relief to their tenants. Under this relief, businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50M and who can show a decline in turnover of at least 30% due to COVID can claim a proportionate rent reduction.
Landlords will be required to provide proportional rent relief in line with their tenant’s reduction in turnover. As an example, a business who has experienced a 50% drop in turnover when compared to pre-pandemic level can only be charged 50% of its rent. Of the balance, at least half of the rent reduction must be waived permanently whilst the rest can be deferred.
Tenants and landlords are encouraged to negotiate directly but The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) will again resume its role in offering mediation to assist parties in reaching agreement. Importantly, landlords will be unable to either lockout or evict tenants without a determination from VSBC.
The following support packages were announced prior to 28th July and build off pre-existing grants and programs.
Victorian Government Business Support
The Victorian Government announced a series of programs on the 21st of July. In summary, these are:
- Top up payments for round two of the Business Costs Assistance Program and the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund – further details below
- An extension to round two of the Business Costs Assistance Program and the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
- Sporting Club Grants Program – $2,000 grants for community sport and active recreation organisations for events cancelled or postponed. Applications are open, but this is not available for clubs that are eligible for support under the Business Costs Assistance Program.
- Impacted Public Events Support Program – support for events and suppliers to the events can receive up to $25,000 and $10,000 respectively. Further information is still pending.
- Live Performance Support Program, up to $7,000 for performers and $2,000 for suppliers. Further information still pending
- Alpine Business Supplement – For eligible alpine businesses, an extra $3,000 on top of entitlements under the Licensed Hospitality Fund. Further information is still pending.
Business Costs Assistance Program and Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund Top-up
The Victorian Government has provided two top-up payments for those who received support for the circuit breaker lockdown in June. These are automatic payments and do not require re-application. They are:
- 16 July top up payment of $2,000 for the Business Costs Assistance Program and $3,000 for the Licensed Venue Hospitality Fund
- 21 July top up payment of $2,800 for the Business Costs Assistance Program and $4,200 for the Licensed Venue Hospitality Fund
Under these two automated payments, eligible businesses would have received a total payment of $4,800 and $7,200 respectively to assist with business costs impacted by the recent lockdown
As a reminder, to be eligible, businesses must have met the following eligibility criteria:
- businesses must be located within Victoria;
- listed as operating in eligible industry
- have a valid ABN and GST registration.
- have an annual Victorian Payroll of up to $10M in the 2020 financial year.
For employing businesses, registration with Worksafe Victoria is mandatory as well as attesting that the business is supporting its workers to access any paid entitlements and/or supporting working from home options.
Business Costs Assistance Program and Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund Extension
Those businesses that did apply for the first circuit breaker lockdown support in June or were previously ineligible due to GST registration, but have since registered for GST can apply and be considered. There are still restrictions around which business/industry code that applies to the business.
The Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two will re-open for applications by the end of July. Applications are not yet open, but there is further information here.
Unfortunately however, there are to date, no support announced for microbusinesses beyond that; they will need to look at applying for the Covid-19 Disaster Payment of $600/$375 per seven-day period. The Victorian Government will establish a concierge service to help these businesses access this support.
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
An agreement between the Victorian and the Commonwealth Government has been struck to fund income support payments from day one of the lockdown. The payments are tiered based on hours of work lost:
- Payments of $600 will be made to Victorians that lose 20 hours or more of work during the period of the lockdown.
- Payments of $375 will be made to individuals that lose between 8-20 hours of work during the period of the lockdown
In what is a welcome change, there is no longer a liquid assets test applied to receive these payments. However, anyone that has received a Victorian business support grant will not be eligible for the Covid-19 disaster payment.
All applications can be made through Services Australia and applications are now open.