The Victorian Government is investing $3 billion to help businesses impacted by ongoing restrictions and prepare for COVID Normal business.
Unveiled by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, the latest round of state government stimulus doubles the dollar value of funding provided to businesses over the course of the pandemic, now standing at $6 billion.
$3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support will be delivered to Victorian businesses that have been most affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The package will help businesses survive and keep Victorians in jobs.
Broadly, the latest package is split into three parts:
Business survival grants, including $1.08 billion in funding to help businesses ride out the remainder of stage four;
Business adaption support, including $44.2 million to assist SMEs to get back on track in the wake of the pandemic; and
Waivers and tax deferrals worth $1.8 billion to ease the burden on companies trying to recover in 2020-21.
Two $100 million packages have also been announced for sole traders and the Melbourne City Recovery fund.
Under the latest support package, $1.08 billion has been allocated to grant programs to help get SMEs up and running.
Third Round of Business Support Fund Grants
The ‘How we work’ roadmaps show that many sectors will remain closed, restricted or heavily restricted as metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria reopens. Grants from this program will help businesses in these sectors survive the extended period of restricted trading.
The amount of grants available from this program range from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the business’ annual payroll. To be eligible for a grant from this program, applicants must:
operate a business located within Victoria; and
participate in the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme; and
employ people and be registered with WorkSafe; and
have had an annual payroll of less than $10 million in 2019-20; and
be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST); and
hold an Australian Business Number (ABN); and
be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.
An eligible business will receive:
$10,000 if its annual payroll is less than $650,000
$15,000 if its annual payroll is between $650,000 and $3 million
$20,000 if its payroll is between $3 million and $10 million.
A full list of the eligibility criteria for a grant will be published when applications open.
Licensed hospitality venue grants
In addition to the Business Support Fund, $251 million has been pledged to fund grants up to $30,000 for licensed pubs, clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and reception centres.
This program will build on the existing Hospitality Business Grant program, which was offering up to $25,000 grants as a one-off and will be based on venue capacity and locations. More details to come.
Business chambers and trader groups
A total $3 million has been outlaid for “competitive” grants to support business chambers and trader groups in rolling out programs that help member businesses get back on their feet.
A further $4.3 million has been pledged to provide grants worth up to $20,000 to alpine businesses to help cover resort fees.
This part of the package provides additional funding, tools and resources to help businesses adapt and prepare for reopening under COVID normal settings and includes the following.
- $20 million voucher program to assist sole traders and small businesses in building their digital capability, essentially enabling the purchase of off-the-shelf software-as-a-service (SaaS) products such as Shopify. It will also fund training and workshops for business owners looking to move their businesses online.
- $15.7 million package to help Victorian exporters get their products to market and establish new trade channels. This will see businesses connected to international markets via “virtual trade missions” and given advice about entering new markets.
- $8.5 million expansion to the ‘Click for Vic’ campaign, which is a state government initiative driving leads to independent e-commerce and hospitality businesses. The program, launched during stage four, has already generated 211,000 leads to businesses featured on the website.
Waivers and deferrals
Victoria will forgo charging or otherwise defer $1.8 billion in fees and taxes in 2020-2021 to ease the burden on companies impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
The bulk of this will come from $1.7 billion in payroll tax deferrals, which will run through the entirety of the 2020-21 financial year.
All businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will be eligible for the deferrals, although the government has yet to stipulate whether this will be automatically applied or not.
Other waivers and deferrals include:
- $41 million to bring forward the 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property for all of Regional Victoria.
- $33 million to defer the planned increase in the landfill levy for six months
- $30 million to waive 25% of the Congestion Levy this year, with the outstanding balance deferred.
- $27 million in liquor license fee waivers for 2021
- $6 million to waive Vacant Residential Land Tax for vacancies in 2020.
The Victorian government has also announced a $100 million package of grant funding for the state’s sole traders.
Grants of $3,000 are available to sole traders who are tenants or licensees in commercial premises.
It is thought this will be available to some 33,000 sole traders.
This will include those traders who work in areas like accommodation and tourism, some non-permitted retail, media and film production, gyms, creative studios, outdoor entertainment and private museums and galleries.
It will allow them to help pay their overheads, to give them the opportunity to emerge on the other side and recover strongly.
More detail on eligibility for these grants is expected in the coming days.
$100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund
An additional $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund jointly funded by the City of Melbourne has also been announced.
The recovery fund will particularly benefit businesses in hospitality and tourism, most hit by the second lockdown.
The $100 million package includes:
- $30 million in grants to small and medium businesses to help pay for tables, plastic screens, umbrellas and things needed for outdoor hospitality (in a bid to reconfigure spaces, to convert areas like rooftops and courtyards for outdoor use)
- $30 million to support COVIDSafe events and cultural activities in the CBD to attract visitors back to the city; and
- $40 million going towards providing physical improvements to the CBD streetscape.
The government will also allow some streets and lanes to be closed to allow for outdoor dining and drinking.
Victorian Jobs Minister Martin Pakula said the Melbourne City Recovery fund would be made available to 16,500 businesses in the city, which employ approximately 470,000 people.
More information and application opening dates can be found on the Business Victoria Website.
Many Australian businesses are pivoting their way out of business disruption and exploring new opportunities to give their companies a much needed boost.