Victorian government unveils $534 million small business support package, including grants for Melbourne businesses

Tim Pallas venture growth fund

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas. Source: AAP/Joe Castro.

The Victorian government has unveiled a $534 million support package for businesses, following the announcement that parts of the state were being plunged back into COVID-19 lockdown earlier this week.

The package includes cash grants of $5000 for some 80,000 eligible businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, which moved back into Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday night.

The support package will also include a $30 million fund for hospitality business, and $20 million for small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD. It’s not clear yet how those funds will be deployed.

A further $26 million has also been set aside for mental health support and mentoring for small business owners, including sole traders.

Yesterday, The Guardian reported calls to mental health support service Beyond Blue have doubled over the past fortnight, as COVID-19 restrictions have ramped up again.

Outside of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, $40 million is earmarked for regional tourism businesses, to help cover refunds and marketing costs now that city-dwellers won’t be travelling any time soon.

Finally, Victoria’s payroll tax deferral scheme is also being extended. Eligible businesses with payroll of up to $10 million will be able to defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.

The announcement on the $5000 grants follows Premier Daniel Andrews’ unveiling of the Business Support Fund grants unveiled last week, for businesses within the 12 ‘hotspot’ postcodes that were locked down first.

The latest grants are an extension of the same scheme.

When the city-wide shutdown was announced on Monday, the wording on the government’s business support page changed, suggesting the grants scheme could open up to more businesses, but details were not clear.

Now that scheme is set to be extended to all the broader lockdown area. But, no details yet on what the eligibility criteria will be.

Businesses can apply for the grant funding here.

Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said the latest package had been drawn up in “close consultation” with both the Victorian Chamber and the Victorian Hotels Association.

It brings the state’s total stimulus to $6 billion, he said.

“What’s critically important, is that the wellbeing of Victorians and Victorian industry and business is first and foremost in our thinking during these difficult times,” Pallas said.

“That is our driving focus and that will be the effort where we put our continuing support over the weeks to come.”

The treasurer also suggested there will be additional measures announced at a later date.

“This is a testing time for business,” he said.

“We are putting in place real, tangible efforts to assist the community, and those real tangible efforts will be ongoing.

“This will not be the last that you hear of the support from this government as we go through these difficult times.”

Pallas suggested that any additional measures will likely follow the Federal government’s update on July 23, with regards to its own business support plans once the JobKeeper program comes to an end.

“That of course will inform us going forward as to what further, additional support might be required for the community,” he said.

More to come.

NOW READ: “Heartbreaking”: Melbourne businesses losing hope in the face of second COVID-19 lockdown

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