Victorian government announces $143 million COVID-19 support package for business: Here’s what SMEs need to know

Victoria support for business

The Victorian government has announced a $143 million financial support package for small businesses affected by the snap lockdown that fell on the Valentines and Lunar New Year weekend.

The four-part relief package will target small businesses and sole traders, offering cash grants and vouchers for businesses in those industries hardest hit by the five-day coronavirus lockdown which began on February 12.

The $143 million package will help about 50,000 Victorian businesses, including restaurants, florists, hairdressers, accommodation providers and performers, helping cover the costs of wasted perishable goods, cancelled shows or missed trading caused by the restrictions.

Announcing the package on Sunday, Victorian Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said the benefits of the lockdown outweighed its impact on businesses.

“We know it hurt businesses to shut their doors, but the long-term benefits are clear,” Pulford said in a statement.

“A temporary pause has meant businesses can now get on with their rebuilding — with our full support.”

Grants for businesses

Eligible businesses will receive cash grants of $2,000 as part of the $92 million Business Costs Assistance Program.

Sole traders and businesses in hospitality, food wholesaling, tourism and events industries, and some retailers, with an annual payroll of up to $2 million will be eligible for the grants.

Business Victoria is expected to make more information available online soon, regarding eligibility and how to apply.

Grants for licensed hospitality venues

The Victorian government will top up the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund with an extra $24.9 million, giving previous recipients another automatic payment of $3,000 to help cover costs incurred due to the circuit breaker lockdown.

Businesses that are eligible for a second grant will not be able to receive a $2,000 Business Costs Assistance Program grant.

Support for accommodation providers

Accommodation businesses in Greater Melbourne will now be included in an accommodation support program that was first set up for regional businesses in August last year.

This means accommodation providers will be able to apply for grants to recover losses incurred from booking cancellations between Friday, February 12 and Wednesday, February 17.

There are two tiers of funding: $2,250 for venues with 10 or fewer cancelled nights and $4,500 for venues with 11 or more cancelled nights.

Application dates for the Victorian Accommodation Support Program are yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, businesses can register their interest online.

Travel vouchers

Victoria’s travel voucher scheme will be expanded with the addition of 40,000 vouchers for residents travelling to Greater Melbourne.

The new Greater Melbourne travel vouchers will reimburse Victorians $200, if they can prove they had already spent at least $400 on a trip.

More information about how to apply for the vouchers is expected to become available online in the coming days.

An extra 10,000 vouchers will also be added to the regional voucher scheme which gives residents $200 to spend on a trip in regional Victoria if they can prove they had already spent at least $400.

Applications for the third round will open on March 30 at 10am.

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