Explained: The support available for SMEs affected by flooding

flooding-support-available floods

Source: Unsplash/Chris Gallagher.

This article was updated on March 3 at 10.50am, to add additional support measures that became available, and on March 7 at midday to add a link to our article on the $50,000 grants available to small businesses.

As devastating rains continue in Queensland and New South Wales, small businesses in the region find themselves facing yet another crisis and in need of support.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Peter Dutton has attracted ridicule after launching a GoFundMe page to raise money for a flood affected community in his electorate.

While he promised “every dollar” would go directly to residents and businesses, Twitter commentators — rather predictably — questioned whether this shouldn’t be the very role of the government.

Here is some of the actual government support available to flood affected businesses.

Grant funding for small businesses

Joint-funded packages from the state and federal governments are offering grant funding of up to $50,000 for small businesses affected by the flood in New South Wales and Queensland.

The packages also offer up to $75,000 for primary producers.

Read our full article available on these packages, including who’s eligible and how to apply, here.

Federal government Disaster Recovery Allowance

As well as offering disaster recovery payments of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child, the federal government has announced a Disaster Recovery Allowance for employees, small business owners and farmers who have suffered a loss of income due to the floods.

The allowance will provide workers and business owners with payments for up to 13 weeks, from the date of loss of income.

Payments are set at a maximum rate equivalent to Jobseeker or Youth Allowance payments, depending on circumstances, and will be taxable.

This support is available for people in 26 affected local government areas.

In Queensland: Brisbane, Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

In New South Wales: Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed.

Eligible residents can claim this support via myGov or by calling Services Australia on 180 22 66.

Find out more about how to apply here.

Support for businesses in Queensland

Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, which are activated for individual council areas in case of emergency, have been made available in 13 local government areas in Western Queensland, and 17 in southeast Queensland.

These areas are: Barcoo, Boulia, Bulloo, Burke, Cloncurry, Diamantina, Flinders, Longreach, McKinlay, Mount Isa, Paroo, Quilpie, Winton, Brisbane, Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

Disaster Assistance Loans

Under the DRFA, affected businesses can access a Disaster Assistance Loan of up to $250,000 over up to 10 years.

These loans are intended to assist businesses in re-establishing normal operations, and can be used for repairing or replacing damaged equipment, repairing or replacing buildings or meeting rent and rates requirements.

Loans under this scheme must be secured by a mortgage of land, or by another asset deemed satisfactory by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA).

Find out more information on the Disaster Assistance Loans here.

Essential Working Capital Loans

Businesses can also access loans of up to $100,000 over up to 10 years to cover working capital expenses.

These expenses could include paying salaries or wages; paying rent or rates; paying creditors; and buying good essential to running the business, such as fuel.

These loans must also be secured by a mortgage of land, or by another asset deemed satisfactory by the QRIDA.

Find out more about Essential Working Capital Loans here.

Freight subsidies for primary producers

Freight subsidy payments of up to $5,000 are available for eligible primary producers.

These grants may cover the costs of moving emergency fodder for livestock; moving building or fencing materials, or machinery and other equipment; and moving animals purchased to restock after a disaster.

Primary producers may also be able to access farm management grants, replanting or restocking grants, and recovery and resilience grants.

Read more about freight subsidies here, and find out more about support for primary producers here.

Special Disaster Recovery Grants

It is thought that Special Disaster Recovery Grants will also be available under the DRFA.

These can provide up to $25,000 for affected small businesses, and up to $50,000 for affected primary producers.

The grants are intended to cover the cost of hiring or purchasing equipment or materials; removing debris; replacing fencing; and other costs of the clean-up and recovery process.

They can also cover repairs to premises and internal fittings that may not be covered by insurance.

Find out more about the Special Disaster Recovery Grants here.

Support for businesses in New South Wales

While the New South Wales government hasn’t announced any specific support for flood-affected businesses at this time, Service NSW has said there will be grants available to businesses and non-profits.

You can sign up here to be notified when business support is available.

The federal government also pledged an additional $200 million to long-term recovery for flood affected communities in NSW.

That brings the joint-funded state and federal Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements to $800 million.

Recovery program for NSW primary producers

The joint state and federal funding includes the $80 million Storm and Flood Industry Recovery Program, designed to support primary producers in NSW.

The scheme offers grants of up to $75,000, for cleanup and reinstatement measures for businesses that have sustained damage as a direct result of a disaster.

While applications for this scheme are currently showing as closed, it is thought they will re-open again for businesses affected by the latest floods.

You can read more about the Storm and Flood Industry Recovery Program here.

Business NSW Workplace Advice Line

Business NSW has made its Workplace Advice Line free for all business owners in the state affected by the flood disaster.

The service is set up to help support employers with any workplace and employment issues.

It is usually available only to Business NSW members, but is being opened up to any affected businesses for the next two weeks, free of charge.

You can contact the helpline on 13 29 59, between 8.30am and 5pm.

ATO support for flood-affected SMEs

Small businesses that needed to lodge business activity statements of installment notices with an original due date of February 28 or March 21, 2022, will now have until March 28, 2022.

Business owners do not need to file a lodgement deferral request.

The lodgement date for anyone who had an income tax return due on February 22, 2022, has also been deferred until March 28.

If business owners cannot pay by the updated due date, they are encouraged to contact the ATO to discuss payment options.

Further deferrals may be available, on a case-by-case basis.

The ATO also offers general support to businesses affected by natural disasters, including prioritising any refunds owed, setting up payments plans, and scrapping penalties or interest charged during the time of crisis.

Read more about the ATO’s specific flood support measures here, and general natural disaster support here.

Support from Australian banks

Australian banks are offering deferrals of business loan repayments for up to three months for customers affected by the flood disasters in both Queensland and NSW.

Australian Banking Association (ABA) chief executive Anna Bligh encouraged people, including small business owners, to contact their bank as soon as possible, to find out what assistance is available “to get them through this tough time”.

Depending on circumstances, ABA member banks are offering support including deferral of home, personal and some business loans; restructuring of loan fees; waived fees and charges; debt consolidation; deferred credit card repayments; and finance to help cover cash flow shortages.

“We want Australians who have been impacted to know their bank is ready with tailored support to assist as they recover,” Bligh added.

“The message from banks is clear: don’t tough it out on your own, call your bank, they are ready to help.”

Banks offering disaster support are: ANZ, AMP, BankAust, Bankwest, Bendigo, Commbank, ING, NAB, St George, Suncorp and Westpac.

To find the support your bank is offering, click here.

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Graeme Harrison
Graeme Harrison
2 months ago

Be careful of ALL offers from banks. When I was told that those affected by 2019-20 NSW bushfires, I contacted bank and said credit card payments could be delayed by weeks while fighting fire & immediate aftermath. The next day I discovered the card was inoperable. Bank advised that they took the request for two-week disruption as ‘sign’ of ‘bad debt’, so card was terminated. Anna Bligh may say banks want to help, but understand this is not in their DNA!

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