Border grants: $45 million for small businesses hurt by NSW-Victoria border closure

NSW border grants

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Source: AAP/Dean Lewins.

The New South Wales government will hand out $45 million in border grants to small businesses affected by the closure of the state’s border with Victoria.

Announced over the weekend, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Southern Border Small Business Support grants will help ease cost pressures and keep businesses open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know people in border communities like Albury-Wodonga, Yarrawonga-Mulwala and Echuca-Moama usually move between towns, with closures having a significant impact on day-to-day business,” Berejiklian said in a statement.

“The NSW Government is investing in targeted relief to help ease the pressures and costs of keeping businesses open while borders remain closed.”

NSW closed most travel across the NSW-Victoria border on July 8 amid increasing numbers of coronavirus infections in Victoria.

The border restrictions have hurt many business owners, including farmers, some of which have been unable to access their livestock.

How will the border grants work?

Two tiers of grants will be made available to NSW-based businesses in 13 local government areas along the NSW-Victoria border, valued at $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.

The grants are targeted at meeting costs associated with surviving or adapting to business conditions arising from the border closure, but businesses won’t be able to claim costs already covered by other government programs.

The $5,000 tier will be made available to businesses that can show a 30% decline in turnover since the border closure came into effect on July 8, while the $10,000 tier will be for businesses that experienced a 75% decline in turnover.

Both turnover tests will be compared against a period covering at least two weeks between March 30 to July 7, before the border closure.

Businesses must have fewer than 20 full time equivalent staff to apply for either grant, while sole traders without employees will only be eligible for the $5000 payment, and not the larger $10,000 payment.

Businesses based out of eligible local government areas will be allowed to apply. These include:

  • Albury;
  • Balranald;
  • Berrigan;
  • Bega Valley;
  • Edward River;
  • Federation;
  • Greater Hume Shire;
  • Hay;
  • Murray River;
  • Murrumbidgee;
  • Snowy Monaro;
  • Snowy Valleys; and
  • Wentworth.

Applications for the grants must nominate what they’ll be used for, and eligible activities include:

  • Meeting unavoidable operating expenses, including utilities, salaries and rent;
  • Seeking financial, legal or other advice to support business continuity planning;
  • Developing the business through marketing and communications activities;
  • Other supporting activities relating to the operation of the business;
  • Digital solutions (e.g. e-commerce, business websites, online sales platform);
  • Seeking professional advice on strategies to reach more customers;
  • Human capital (e.g. digital skills, export training and consulting);
  • Permanent physical improvements (e.g. to improve efficiencies or customer experience); and
  • Diversification of markets and supply chains.

Applications will open via Service NSW on September 8, 2020.

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