Editor’s note: Additional financial support for Victorian businesses was announced on Wednesday, June 2, following the extension of Melbourne’s lockdown. More information is available in this article.
Victorian businesses in industries affected by the state’s seven-day lockdown will soon be able to apply for grants of up to $3,500 as part of a COVID-19 business support package.
Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino announced the $250.7 million support package on Sunday, May 30, saying it will help 90,000 businesses affected by the restrictions that will remain in force at least until midnight Thursday, June 3.
“This support will help businesses pay the bills and maintain their workforce as best they can, as we work together to get through this challenge,” Merlino said.
The package features three initiatives for small and medium businesses and sole traders.
The Business Costs Assistance Program
The Victorian government is spending $190 million to fund a second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program, which will offer eligible businesses grants of $2,500.
Businesses and sole traders that are unable to operate under the restrictions and can’t work remotely, such as restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers and non-essential retailers, will be able to apply for the grants.
Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
The package also includes $40.7 million to fund a new round of the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund.
As part of the fund, businesses holding an eligible liquor licence and food certificate will be able to apply for a $3,500 grant per premises.
Victorian Events Support Package
Businesses in the events industry will receive support through a $20 million package dedicated to operators that have incurred losses due to the restrictions.
The value of the grants and application dates will be available on the business.vic.gov.au website shortly.
How can I apply?
Applications for the Business Costs Assistance Program and Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will open on Wednesday June 2 and close after three weeks.
Businesses can register their interest at business.vic.gov.au so they can be notified as soon as applications open.
When will I receive the grant?
The state government has not confirmed when it will begin making the grant payments. However, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas told The Age that he hopes the grants will begin to be paid by the end of this week.
What has the reaction been?
Business associations have welcomed the package but say more support needs to exist for businesses forced to close during lockdowns.
Paul Zahra, chief executive of the Australian Retailers Association, said without the safety net of JobKeeper, the state and federal governments must work together to offer “ongoing, targeted support”.
However, the federal government has so far refused to offer further assistance to Victorian businesses.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg declined the Victorian government’s request for $250 million in funding in a move the acting premier described as “disgraceful”.
In a Facebook post, Frydenberg wrote that the federal government didn’t give extra support to businesses in Brisbane and Perth during their three-day lockdowns, which also took place after JobKeeper ended.
“For businesses that experience losses, the loss carry-back measure is available to boost cash-flow at the end of the financial year,” Frydenberg wrote.