The South Australian government has announced a second round of $10,000 grants for small businesses that are still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, ahead of its state budget announcement today.
The grants package comes as part of a $4 billion ‘adrenaline hit’ to the economy, expected to be unveiled in the budget.
Available to small businesses and not-for-profits, such as sports and community organisations, the grants are expected to assist some 10,000 entities, valuing the scheme at about $100 million.
Grants will be available to cover outstanding or ongoing costs, such as rent, power bills and raw material costs, a statement on the package said.
This is the second round of grant funding for small businesses in the state, bringing the amount of total grant funding available to small businesses to $20,000.
According to Premier Steven Marshall, some $186 million has already been paid out.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our state’s economy and we are determined to do everything in our power to help keep their lights on, their doors open and their hardworking people in jobs,” Marshall said in a statement.
“While many local businesses have started the recovery process as COVID-19 restrictions have started to ease, we know there are still many others who continue to be negatively impacted by the pandemic.”
The state’s Treasury is also expected to announce $3,000 grants for sole traders and partnership businesses that don’t have employees, “in recognition of their value in the economy”, Marshall said.
Such businesses were not eligible for previous grants packages.
Sole traders will be eligible for the grants if they operate from a commercial premises and can show they are still suffering ‘financial hardship’ as a result of the pandemic.
More detailed eligibility criteria for the grants can be found here.
A $4 billion ‘adrenaline hit’
The grants package will form part of the state government’s $4 billion stimulus investment, set to be unveiled today.
Marshall has called this package “the single biggest hit of adrenaline by a state government in South Australia’s history”.
With a focus on creating jobs, the funding is also pegged for short-term projects that can be completed within two years.
“We want to see shovels and ladders, hi-vis and hard-hats, overalls and paint-brushes right across the state,” Marshall said in a statement.
In addition to the business grants, this $4 billion will include a $1 billion ‘tradies package’, designed to provide a pipeline of construction work for trades and suppliers.
The state’s Business and Jobs Support Fund is also set to get a $230 million boost, bringing its total funding to $530 million.
A further $15 million is pegged for the Community and Jobs Support fund, bringing its total funding to $265 million.
And, $220 million will be invested in the Economic and Business Growth Fund, which is intended to support industry and business growth.
Elsewhere, the state government is focusing on reducing energy prices both for households and businesses.
An additional $18 million is expected to be pledged to the Home Battery Scheme, bringing total funding to $118 million, to fund what Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan has called the “largest per capita roll-out of home batteries in the world”.
That funding also comes with a new set of energy storage targets, intended to create “further downward pressure on household and small business electricity prices”.
Finally, the government is expected to reveal an $18.3 million Electric Vehicle Action Plan, to encourage the use of electric vehicles in South Australia.
In a statement, van Holst Pellekaan noted that the two main barriers to adoption of EVs are typically cited as a lack of charging infrastructure and limited availability of affordable models.
So, this funding will be directed towards solving those issues.
“Headlining the Electric Vehicle Action Plan is the creation of a state-wide fast charging network where the public can plug in their electric vehicles,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
The state government has also pledged to transition its own fleet of vehicles to electric models, a move that will see the $80 million it spends on vehicles and fuel each year reallocated.
“Instead of $15 million each year spent on imported fuel, we’ll be buying local clean power instead,” van Holst Pellekaan said.