Explained: The COVID-19 support payments available to Victorian small businesses

covid-19 support payments

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews arrives at a press conference in Melbourne. Source: AAP/James Ross.

The Victorian government has announced a fresh $2.34 billion injection to its business support package that’s jointly funded by the federal and state governments in response to Melbourne’s ongoing Delta coronavirus outbreak.

The new round of funding comes after the Victorian government extended the statewide lockdown until at least 70% of the population have had at least one dose of vaccine, which is expected to be by September 23.

Announcing the support on Saturday, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said the package — which is bigger than anything previously announced — is in response to changing circumstances.

“This package will support our hardest-hit sectors and businesses and ensure they can keep paying the expenses that don’t go away just because the doors are shut,” Pallas said.

Here’s a roundup of the small business support payments the Victorian government has announced to date.

Small Business COVID Hardship Fund

The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund will now offer grants of up to $20,000 to small businesses that aren’t eligible for other grant programs and have experienced a 70% reduction in turnover.

The fund 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 also be registered for GST and not be eligible for other Victorian COVID-19 business grant programs that have been announced since May 27.

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 don’t have access to a qualified agent can also register their interest for the program and will receive an email with further information.

Alpine Business Support Program

Alpine businesses are eligible for automatic top up payments of between $10,000 and $40,000, depending on the business location and whether they employ staff.

These top up payments come off the back of the previous round of grants, including $5,000 for off-mountain venues or $20,000 for employing on mountain businesses.

The Victorian government should have contacted any business that’s eligible for the program about the application process. Applications close September 17.

Rent relief

When the two-week lockdown lifted on midnight July 27, the Victorian government reintroduced its Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme. The scheme is available to businesses with turnover of less than $50 million that have suffered a decline in turnover of at least 30%.

The scheme requires landlords to provide rent relief equivalent to a business’s reduction in turnover, with half of the reduction to be waived and half to be deferred.

The rent relief is calculated by comparing a business’ turnover for the final quarter of the 2020/21 financial year with turnover from the final quarter of 2018/19.

The Victorian government says new businesses won’t miss out on this assistance and that “special arrangements” will be in place to assess the turnover impacts for new businesses that were not operating in 2019.

To help landlords offer rent relief, the Victorian government is providing land tax relief of up to 25% in addition to any previous relief. Small landlords who can demonstrate acute financial hardship will be eligible to apply for payments as part of a $20 million hardship fund.

Live Performance Support program

The live performance grants are designed to help businesses and artists in the live performance industry who have been affected by event cancellations between May 27 and September 2 this year.

The program includes two streams, with the first catering to presenters and the second catering to suppliers.

The Live Performance Support program (Presenters) round two grants are currently open to producers, promoters, venue owners and artists who promote their own shows.

Presenters can apply for $7000 or $5000 for one event, and a further $5000 for a second event. There’s a cap of $12,000 per applicant across the two rounds of the program. See here for the full eligibility criteria.

The Live Performance Support program (Suppliers) round two grants are open to suppliers contracted to work on events, including performers, crew, technicians and engineers.

Suppliers can apply for $200 or $500 per event up to a maximum of 20 events or $4000 in total support over both rounds of the program. See here for the full eligibility criteria.

The presenter and supplier grants are also open to Victorian-based arts workers who have lost scheduled work interstate.

Applications are set to close for both grants on September 8.

Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund

The support package announced on Saturday will allow payments under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund continue to flow weekly over the next month.

Businesses can receive $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 payments per week depending on their size.

Venues that can hold up to 99 patrons will receive $5,000, those that can hold between 100 and 499 will receive $10,000 and larger venues will receive $20,000.

To be eligible for the automatic payments, businesses must have already received grants under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 or July Extension program.

Applications for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 July Extension closed on August 20.

The July extension offered grants of $7,200 to eligible liquor licensees to help them cover business costs. Businesses with an eLicence email address registered with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation should have received an application link from Business Victoria via email.

Liquor licensees without an eLicence email address were required to have set one up on their VCGLR Portal by August 9 to receive their grant application link.

Business Cost Assistance Program

In August, the Victorian government announced a significant boost in funding for the the Business Cost Assistant Program.

Under the program, businesses in metropolitan Melbourne as well as regional Victoria will be eligible for payments based on annual payroll.

Businesses with no payroll or payroll between $650,000 will receive payments of $2800 per week.

Businesses with annual payroll between $650,000 and $3 million will receive $5600 per week and businesses with payroll of up to $10 million will receive $8400 per week. All payments will be made fortnightly.

To be eligible, businesses must have already received the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two payments and the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two July Extension payments

Applications for the round two extension payment closed online on August 20.

Business Continuity Fund

The Business Continuity Fund is designed to help businesses that continue to be affected by capacity limits.

The fund covers 24 eligible sectors, 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 through 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 offices will receive a larger grant of $7,000.

These payments are automatically paid to businesses operating within the 24 eligible sectors that have already received the Business Cost Assistance Program Round Two and the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two July Extension payments.

This article was first published on August 17, 2021 and has been updated to include new support announced by the Victorian government on Saturday September 4. 

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Sharna
Sharna
1 month ago

So what about businesses that were days away from opening for the first time,but never got to open due to covid closing beauty salons? Their life savings gone in a blink of an eye. No compensation??

Clare
Clare
1 month ago
Reply to  Sharna

Yup, this is exactly what happened to me in March 2020. I was ineligible for everything throughout all of last year, it truly was a disaster.

Justine
Justine
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare

We run a herb farm supplying restaurants in the CBD. Due to restrictions we have had no income since lockdown 4 and no help from the government

Lawrence Green
Lawrence Green
1 month ago

I’m an eligible business but so far have yet to see one cent of support. My hair salon is closed and I have
seen a one hundred percent reduction in income. Why are these grants taking so long???

RAKESH BHATIA
RAKESH BHATIA
1 month ago

we just start cleaning business a month ago , and now no client how about that we cant provide 70% decrease in income than previous quarter.

Todd
Todd
1 month ago

What about sole trader entertainers? Eg DJs / live music etc

Ant
Ant
1 month ago
Reply to  Todd

If you’re not registered for GST you can get the commonwealth disaster payment through MyGov, but also you can apply for the Business Victoria Live Performance Support Program for lost gigs you had booked between the period described on the application. That’s about all that’s possible.

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

So i am a sole trader but not registered with worksafe as they wont insure a sole trader that doesnt employ people. What do i do?

Ant
Ant
1 month ago
Reply to  Greg

You don’t have to be registered with worksafe unless you’re employing other people. So as a sole trader you don’t have to fill out anything on the part of whatever form you’re applying to regarding worksafe.

Evan
Evan
1 month ago

Just a heads up to everyone, the turnover calculation explained above has been amended. The best 2 week period compared to the worst 2 week period cannot be any dates within that date range. The worst 2 week period you choose in 2021 needs to be compared to the same date range in 2019 (within 3 days) if you have a comparable period.

Donna
Donna
1 month ago

So because I don’t have gst im not eligible for any of it. I run my own cleaning business on my own and have lost so much money im even that close off being evicted single mum of 2 kids. Was earning 650 a week to nothing. Thats 1300 a fnight im so close in giving up in life. Its to much

Ant
Ant
1 month ago
Reply to  Donna

yeh it sucks heaps that you can’t apply for any business grant. Did you apply for the Commonwealth disaster payment though? That was $600 a week and now $750 a week. You’re eligible for that if you aren’t for the others? I know it’s not the same but it’s something at least.

Kylie
Kylie
1 month ago
Reply to  Donna

I also have an established cleaning business and ive just applied for the disaster payment but I am not registered for gst and not sure if I am entitled to anything else. Also a mum with children on my own, it’s not easy.

Georgina Knightley
Georgina Knightley
22 days ago
Reply to  Donna

where are you, reply below email

Mike S
Mike S
1 month ago

I tried the my gov hardship application and when i put in the final detail which was the shire it told me i was not eligble! A sole trader with no gst i cant seem to successfully apply for anything from my regional location

Karyn Welsh
Karyn Welsh
29 days ago

I don’t see any assistance provided to not for profits or Charities impacted by COVID lockdowns.Am I missing something? We rely on being able to hold face to face events, the venues do vary according to the event.

Jimmy
Jimmy
23 days ago

If a personal history is working full time and running a business for more than 2 years. Now doing only full-time business and occasional business with GST active. Does that person still eligible for business assistance grant.

Kirsten
Kirsten
22 days ago

is the business continuity fund a second $5000 payment, or is it just the original 1 payment that I received early August?