COVID-19 Government Support for Victorian Small Businesses
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in Melbourne on the evening of Tuesday August 16 including an extension of the state’s 6th lockdown, a 9pm curfew and the ban on the removal of face masks to drink alcoholic beverages in public.
For small business owners, access to government support is a critical lifeline and there have been a lot of changes in the last month which are summarised below:
The Business Costs Assistance Program Round Three 19 and 12 August Top-Up
The Federal and State Government package injected $266 million into round 3 of the Business Cost Assistance Program. The third round of grants is expected to provide around 90,000 eligible businesses with an automatic payment of $5,600. Businesses that didn’t receive a grant under round two or the round two extension are not eligible to receive funding under Round 3 or the August Top Up of the Business Costs Assistance Program.
Applications for this program closed on August 20th.
Small Business COVID Hardship Fund
The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund will offer grants of up to $14,000 to small businesses that aren’t eligible for other grant programs and have experienced a 70% reduction in turnover. This payment is designed to help businesses that are legally allowed to operate but are unable to generate revenue due to restrictions, such as a food store located within the retail section. It’s also intended to help businesses that have less customers due to restrictions, such as pharmacists in the CBD or catering businesses.
To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70% due to restrictions in place between May and August. Businesses applying for the grant must be registered for GST and not be eligible for other Victorian COVID-19 business grant programs that have been announced since May 27, 2021.
Applications must include evidence of a reduction in revenue of at least 70% for a minimum consecutive two-week period since May 27, when compared to a trading period not affected by restrictions. In making this calculation, businesses can compare their best two-week trading period between May 27, 2019 and September 10, 2019, with their worst consecutive two-week trading period between May 27, 2021 and September 10, 2021.
Eligible Victorian businesses can have a qualified agent such as an accountant, tax agent or registered BAS agent apply on their behalf, or they can apply themselves and provide evidence of a reduction in turnover verified by a qualified agent. Business owners who do not have access to a qualified agent can also register their interest for the program and will receive an email with further information. Applications for this program close on the 10th September 2021 or earlier if the funds are exhausted beforehand.
Business Continuity Fund
The Business Continuity Fund is designed to help businesses that continue to be affected by capacity limits. There are 24 eligible sectors covered by the fund, including gyms, cafes, restaurants, event businesses, catering services and hairdressers.
To be eligible for the $5,000 grants, businesses must have already received a grant under round two of the Business Cost Assistance Program. Businesses located in the CBD that continue to be affected due to restrictions on the number of staff allowed in office buildings can receive a larger grant of $7,000 with the extra $2000 paid separately.
Alpine Business Support Program
Alpine businesses are eligible for $5,000 for off-mountain venues or $20,000 for employing on-mountain businesses, under a $10.6 million extension of the Alpine Business Support Program. The Victorian government should contact any business that is eligible for the program about the application process. The new support package announced on August 12 did not add to this support.
Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 – Top-Up payments and CBD Payment
In response to the current lockdown, which came into effect from August 5, the Victorian Government announced a $400 million package jointly funded by the Federal Government.
The package includes new payments of between $5,000 and $20,000 for about 8,900 hospitality venues across Victoria that already received funding from the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund during the May and July lockdowns. A further series of automatic payments of $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 per week was announced on the 19th August with the payment amount stepped according to premises capacity: $5,000 for a capacity of up to 99 patrons, $10,000 for a capacity of 100 to 499 patrons and $20,000 for a capacity of 500 or more.
Businesses that did not apply for the program in June needed to lodge applications for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 July Extension which closed on August 20. Exceptions may apply if you have been asked to submit your application beyond this date.
The extension offers grants to eligible liquor licensees to help them cover business costs. Businesses with an e-Licence email address registered with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation will receive an application link from Business Victoria via email. Liquor licensees without an e-Licence email address were required to have set one up on their VCGLR Portal by August 9 to receive their grant application link.
Small Business Digital Adaptation Program
The Victorian Government is partnering with 14 suppliers for this program which aims to assist small businesses access a range of digital business tools. Eligible businesses can apply for a rebate of $1200 to help pay for access to a new product or upgrade a current product. This could include building or upgrading your website, commence online marketing, track stock, managing jobs and projects.
There are a limited number of rebates available and businesses can take part in free product trials and workshops then choose one or more of the digital products available. Once purchased they apply for the $1200 rebate and will have to pay the ongoing costs from then on. The product must be purchased from the supplier by 11:59pm on 5 December 2021, or before the program’s funds are exhausted. Eligibility guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions are available on the government website.
Live Performance Support Program Round Two
The Live Performance Support Program Round Two is separated into Suppliers and Presenters.
The Suppliers Program grants eligible contracted suppliers affected by the cancellation or postponement of events from 27th May 2021 to 2nd September 2021. The supplier may be eligible for either $200 or $500 per event (depending on the level of loss or unrecoverable costs incurred) for up to 20 events through Round One of Round Two of the program, capped at $4,000 in total across both rounds of the program and the eligibility for Round Two differs to Round One eligibility (which closed on 16th July 2021). Applications for Round Two closes on Wednesday 8th September, 2021.
Presenters businesses may be eligible for grants due to cancellation or postponement of events due to lockdowns between 28th May 2021 and 2nd September 2021. This program is for live performance event presenters. A presenter is a person or organisation with the right to hold, cancel or re-schedule an event, collect the proceeds from ticket sales or re-locate a given live performance event. For any given event, this may be the producer, promoter, venue owner or artist promoting their own show.
Applicants can apply for either $7000 or $5000 for one event, depending on losses or unrecoverable costs, and a further $5000 for a second event. There is a cap of $12,000 per applicant across the two rounds of the program. As with the Suppliers Program, eligibility for Round Two differs from Round One and applications are therefore open until Wednesday 8th September, 2021.
The Victorian & NSW governments have introduced or reintroduced their Commercial Tenancy Relief Schemes. The Victorian scheme is available to businesses with turnover of less than $50 million that have suffered a decline in turnover of at least 30%.