Victoria unveils support package for lockdown-hit regional businesses

Victoria unveils support package for lockdown-hit regional businesses

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas

A package of automatic cash grants jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments will support businesses in regional Victoria after lockdown restrictions were expanded to cover the whole state on Saturday.

The package comprises a $100.9 million allocation to the Business Costs Assistance Program, $34.5 million for regional premises that have previously received Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund grants, and $11.2 million for the Alpine Resorts Winter Support Program.

It comes after Victoria recorded 65 new cases yesterday, 21 of which were in the regional town of Shepparton where a cluster has been growing quickly.

Today the state has recorded 71 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, of which 49 are linked to known outbreaks and 22 are under investigation.

The support programs are expected to assist 20,000 businesses throughout regional Victoria, joining more than 110,000 businesses in Melbourne.

Businesses in regional Victoria that do not qualify for this new support and have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70 per cent are encouraged to apply for the $252 million Small Business COVID Hardship Fund, which provides grants of $14,000 to successful applicants.

Commonwealth COVID-19 Disaster Payment support will apply to workers and eligible sole-trader businesses in regional areas, as they do in metropolitan areas. Since 1 July, almost $640 million in COVID-19 Disaster payments has flowed to Victoria supporting the incomes of more than 350,000 Victorians

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said that this support package will provide assurance to businesses in the State’s regions when they need it most.

“No one wanted to be in this position, but the rapid spread of the Delta strain and the emergence of cases in regional Victoria meant there was no choice,” Pallas said.

“We are acting quickly, decisively and on public health advice to get ahead of this outbreak so we can start our return to conditions more like we remember them before the pandemic.

“This package is about helping regional businesses at a really tough time as we continue to battle this current outbreak.”

More information about the business support programs is available at business.vic.gov.au

Elsewhere in Australia New South Wales recorded 830 locally acquired COVID-19 cases yesterday after 825 on Saturday, and the Australian Capital Territory reported 19 new cases of which six were infectious in the community.

WA introduces tourism industry support package

Tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19 in Western Australia will soon be able to apply for funding under a new package backed by the State and Federal Governments valued at up to $16.8 million.

Businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to $10,000 if they can demonstrate at least a 30 per cent reduction in turnover by comparing the period 15 May - 25 June with 10 July - 30 August.

The following funding amounts will be made available to eligible businesses:

  • $2,000 grant for all sole traders and for employing businesses with an annual turnover between $50,000 and $100,000
  • $5,000 grant for employing businesses with an annual turnover between $100,000 and $1 million
  • $10,000 grant for employing businesses with an annual turnover between $1 million and $10 million

In order to be eligible, businesses must be:

  • registered with Tourism WA as a previous grant recipient or as part of the agency’s marketing campaigns in 2020 or 2021; or
  • a member of, or accredited through, a relevant tourism organisation (as of today); or
  • a travel agent that has been offering domestic product to travellers.

“The continued acceleration of community spread in many parts of the country – particularly New South Wales – is now so severe it is having impacts on some WA tourism businesses,” Premier Mark McGowan.

“Western Australia’s work to keep COVID-19 largely out of the community has kept the State safe and open – enabling our tourism sector to operate in a way much of the world has been unable to over the past 18 months and fuelling an intrastate visitation boom.”

“The Tourism Assistance Grants will provide targeted support to the Western Australian businesses which have become innocent victims of community spread over east, through no fault of their own.”

City of Melbourne to absorb fee increase for ratepayers

The City of Melbourne is discounting rates for all commercial and residential ratepayers across the municipality at a total cost of $4.8 million in response to the impacts of COVID-19.

The City was entitled to implement the Victorian Government’s 1.5 per cent rate cap but made the decision to apply a 1.5 per cent rates discount, cancelling out the rates increase this year.

“Rates are necessary to support vital community services and infrastructure and we are legally required to issue them at this time, but we also know that conditions are incredibly tough, so we're doing what we can to take some pressure off for the second year in a row,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

"This year, we're keeping rates low while delivering historic levels of infrastructure and initiatives to create jobs, support businesses and ensure Melbourne remains a safe, clean and resilient city.”

Finance, Governance and Risk lead, Councillor Philip Le Liu, said the decision to apply a discount to the rate increase was made earlier in the year when councillors endorsed the 2021-22 budget.

“All of the city’s 128,000 commercial and residential ratepayers will receive a discount, totalling $4.8 million. Around half of ratepayers will receive a discount between $10 and $50, with an average discount of $37,” Le Liu said.

“The discount will be clearly identified on a rates bill, but the amount of the discount on individual bills will differ depending on the valuation of their property.

“Rates change every year as property values change, so some ratepayers may still see their total bill go up because their property value may have changed relative to others.”

Updated at 9.41am AEST on 23 August 2021.

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