WA rolls out another $72m business support scheme ahead of "rockiest month"

WA rolls out another $72m business support scheme ahead of "rockiest month"

Courtesy of Daniel King (Unsplash)

Hot on the heels of last week’s $67 million support for WA businesses affected by COVID-19 comes a new $72 million business assistance package announced today by the Western Australian Government.

Aimed at Western Australian businesses most affected by Level 2 public health and social measures, the bulk of the new deal is in $66.8 million worth of Small Business Hardship Grants, while other funds include $2.8 million of payroll tax relief for large hospitality businesses and $2.1 million for a COVID-19 Commercial Sporting Franchises Support Program.

Small and medium businesses (SMEs) with a 50 per cent reduction in turnover year-on-year for any four week period between 1 January 2022 and 30 April 2022 are eligible to apply for the tiered grant.

"My government is committed to doing everything we can to help protect WA businesses, local jobs and the economy from the full brunt of COVID-19,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said after announcing the fifth business package since December.

"That is why we have now committed more than $420 million in business support since December, and a total of almost $1.7 billion since the beginning of the pandemic.

"We know that WA is about to enter its rockiest month - but under these Level 2 measures, businesses can continue to operate safely, so I encourage everyone to do the right thing, follow the health advice and support local businesses.

"With our world-leading vaccination rates and safe and sensible measures in place, Western Australians can have confidence to continue to support WA businesses - we will get through this together."

Owners of small and medium-sized businesses will be eligible for the following grants from the Small Business Hardship Grants Program:

  • $3,000 grant for sole traders (no employees);
  • $7,500 grant for micro-businesses (those with one to five employees);
  • $20,000 grant for small businesses (those with six to 19 employees); and
  • $50,000 for medium-sized businesses (those with 20 or more employees and with an annual payroll of up to $4 million).

Large hospitality businesses with payrolls of between $4 million and $20 million will receive a three-month payroll tax waiver if they have experienced at least a 50 per cent drop in turnover over any four week period between 1 January 2022 and 30 April 2022, comparable to the same period last year.

Eligible businesses that apply and receive funding from other recent business support programs, including the Level 1 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package, are also eligible to receive grants from the Level 2 package.

The $2.1 million COVID-19 Commercial Sporting Franchises Support Program includes a $35,000 rebate per game for venue hire costs until June 30, 2022, for commercial sporting franchises, such as the Perth Glory, Perth Wildcats, Perth Lynx and the Western Force.

This program also includes the waiver of public transport charges for home games for these teams in March - and a 50 per cent concession on public transport costs for events in April.

The announcement follows support provided through several recent arts and events support programs, including the revamped $10 million Getting the Show Back on the Road+ program, $3 million Event Suppliers Support Program, the $1.3 million Performing Arts, Theatres and Cinemas Assistance Program, and an additional $9 million to attract major events to WA.

It is expected that applications to these programs will open later this month.

"In Australia, the data shows that once a jurisdiction hits one thousand new cases a day, the peak of the Omicron outbreak is only a few weeks away,” McGowan said.

"The latest advice is that we should now expect to see WA reach the peak of cases in the next two weeks or so.

"That is how fast we expect Omicron to spread here and why we've had to move quickly to implement Level 2 public health and social measures.

"While we hope these measures will only need to be in place for a short time, or about four weeks, we know that there will be an impact on businesses regardless.”

WA recorded 1,770 new cases of COVID on Wednesday, bringing the active cases in the state to 6,979. Sixteen people remain in the hospital, with no patients in ICU.

As WA reopens its borders to the world tomorrow, with a 64.6 per cent COVID booster vaccination rate, the full state will move under level two restrictions.

Level 2 restrictions will include children from Years 3 upwards having to wear masks in all public indoor settings and will see major venue capacity cut to a 50 per cent limit. Home gatherings are limited to a total of 10 people indoors and outdoors, except weddings and funerals.

The measure also includes the two square metre rule and 150 patron capacity limit, for fitness venues, hospitality, entertainment venues, nightclubs, and galleries and museums, with seated service only. Private outdoor gatherings in a public space will be limited to 50 people.

Updated at 2:20pm AWST on 2 March 2022.

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