WA pledges funds for land tax relief and construction

WA pledges funds for land tax relief and construction

Commercial landlords in Western Australia will have access to $100 million in land tax relief grants if they reduce rent for small business tenants affected by Covid-19, thanks to initiatives announced by the State Government today.

The government has also released a $24.5 million support package to assist the building and construction industry, along with $30 million worth of grants of up to $2,000 for residential tenants facing hardship due to the pandemic. 

The new packages complement $1.7 billion in relief measures already announced by the McGowan Government, and follow a six-month moratorium on evictions both for commercial and residential tenants. 

To be eligible for land tax relief, commercial landlords must provide rent relief that equates to a minimum of three months' rent and freeze outgoings to small businesses that have suffered at least a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to Covid-19.

The grants will be equivalent to 25 per cent of a landlord's land tax bill for 2019-20, and will be administered through the Small Business Development Corporation with applications opening on 1 May.

"Grants will be available on a first come, first served basis to encourage landlords to negotiate early with tenants who are doing it tough as a result of Covid-19," says WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

"We've opted to provide targeted assistance that supports both tenants and landlords of commercial and residential properties."

Small Business Minister Paul Papalia says the package will provide targeted financial assistance to encourage landlords to negotiate reductions in rent for small businesses that are doing it tough.

"The initiative will provide a potential minimum three months' rent relief and freeze outgoings at an exceptionally difficult time for thousands of small business owners around the State," says Papalia.

"I commend the Small Business Development Corporation for providing yet another service to the sector at this difficult time, on top of their important ongoing work helping WA businesses to navigate the current environment through the Covid-19 Small Business Assistance Centre."

Related story: State governments pump billions into land tax and rent relief

The government's $24.5 million package for construction includes $10 million to provide an immediate, one-off payment of $2,000 to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving Construction Training Fund (CTF) grant payments.

This will be supplemented by $9.5 million to help employers to retain their existing apprentices, with payments beginning from 1 June, backdated to 1 April.

The payments will range from $250 per month to $500 per month, per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trades facing the most critical skills shortages in the industry.

This will supplement CTF's existing grants scheme for a period of six months, with a review after three months to gauge the effectiveness of the temporary model.

Employers currently receiving CTF grants for apprentices and trainees in employment will be eligible for the new grant scheme and will need to provide evidence of the apprentice's employment, such as a current payslip.

Apprentices and trainees employed in the industry can claim up to $1,000 to support the costs of undertaking short courses to assist them in upskilling.

"The construction industry plays an important role in Western Australia and employs thousands of people across a range of trades," says Premier Mark McGowan.

"It's important we look after our local businesses, apprentices and trainees - this funding will go towards making sure jobs are maintained and our construction workforce is ready to assist with the post Covid-19 economic recovery."

Training Minister Sue Ellery says the package will help keep apprentices and trainees in jobs and support the local construction industry.

"If you're an apprentice in the construction industry looking to upskill - now is the time to take the opportunity to claim back up to $1,000 when you undertake a short course," she says.

"Building and construction is an essential service to the Western Australian economy and community, and this new support package will ensure industry is well positioned with a skilled workforce to meet the demands of a post Covid-19 recovery," adds Building and Construction Industry Training Board chair Reg Howard-Smith.

Updated at 4:19pm AEST on 23 April 2020.

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