10th July, 2020

$534m Business Support Package for Victorian businesses

The Victorian Government has announced a new support package to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns.

As the majority of Victoria’s population enters its second coronavirus lockdown, the Victorian Government has announced further stimulus in a bit to support beleaguered local businesses.

Having already announced $6 billion in economic relief since the pandemic’s outset, the Government is now announcing an additional $534 million Business Support Package.

Key points:

    • Cash grants for struggling businesses – 80,000 eligible businesses to receive $5,000
    • $30m targeted to impacted hospitality businesses
    • $26m in mental health support for business owners
    • $40m in relief for tourism operators who can no longer welcome Melbourne-based visitors for holidays
    • More payroll tax relief – those up to $10 million can defer liabilities for first half or FY20/21

According to ABC News, Treasurer Tim Pallas has said Victoria’s unemployment rate could peak at 11 percent, while the gross state product could decline by about 14 per cent relative to pre-pandemic forecasts.

“We are expecting that there will be literally billions of dollars written off the expected size of the Victorian economy,” he said.

“It will take some years before we see that level of economic activity come back.”

Pallas said the new restrictions were necessary to slow the spread of the virus, but apologised to Victorians for the pain and hardship they would have to endure in coming weeks.

Business Support Fund expanded

The new wave of restrictions in Victoria’s most densely populated areas is necessary to slow the spread of the virus, but the state government also acknowledges the impact it will have on businesses and their staff.

“This is a blow for the Victorian economy and our hard-working businesses, but our economy is robust enough to help us get through to the other side,” said Pallas.

Which is the reasoning for expanding the Business Support Fund in order to provide around 80,000 eligible businesses with a new $5,000 grant.

This grant was previously made available to the 12 postcodes linked to outbreaks, but will now apply to all areas under Stage 3 restrictions.

UPDATE: The State Government has since announced the Business Support Fund will be open for applications from 13 July and will close at 11.59pm 19 August, 2020. You can find out about whether your business is eligible, and apply, here.

Hospitality, mental health and tourism relief on the way

Just as the rest of Australia’s restaurants and cafes begin to get back on their feet, Melbourne-based operators are faced with returning to takeaway only or a period of forced closure.

Recognising these challenges, the announced of economic relief includes a $30 million dedicated fund for the hardest hit businesses in hospitality.

The Government has also announced a $26 million investment in mental health support for Victorians dealing with the challenges of running a small business as they navigate their way through the crisis.

And for regional tourism operators, the package also provides a $40 million capped fund to cover the costs of refunds, as well as marketing campaigns to boost region to region visitation while Melbourne is locked down. Eligible operators will be able to claim up to $225 per night for up to five nights for each and every room cancelled due to the return of Stage 3 restrictions, provided they refund the booking in full.

Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula spoke to the targeted nature of the relief package.

“Supporting our businesses, tourism operators and the night-time economy has never been more crucial – this targeted assistance will make a big difference to those doing it tough.”

The Government has also announced it will establish a $20 million CBD Business Support Fund for impacted businesses specifically in Melbourne’s CBD.

Further adaptability, resourcefulness and resilience needed

Businesses owners are being expected to think on their feet more than ever before in order to maintain a toehold in the market. Whether it’s from direct impacts to revenue, or sensitive business investments that need to be made, the need for quality guidance has been significantly heightened.

To assist in this space, the Government is committing to establish a $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis.

Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford said the aim of the stimulus is to help existing businesses adapt to the current conditions and beyond.

“This pandemic is hard for so many of our small businesses and that’s why we’re making sure they have the support they need to survive, adapt and keep their employees on – so more Victorians can stay in jobs.”