COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly around the world. Almost every country has reported cases, but the burden is asymmetrically distributed.
With small businesses being the hardest hit by this pandemic, many business owners are reeling during this uncertain time.
The overwhelming majority of business owners are concerned about the profitability of their business over the imminent and long-term future.
The Andrews Labor government has announced a range of initiatives that will provide the much-required support to the businesses in need.
The Victorian government is pumping billions of dollars into the economy to help Victorian businesses and workers survive the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the package, the Government is providing full payroll tax refunds for the 2019–20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million—giving $550 million back to businesses who need it.
The businesses are also able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020–21 financial year until 1 January 2021, freeing up a further $83 million in cash flow.
The Andrews Labor Government is also providing $500 million to establish a Business Support Fund. The fund will support the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail.
Small businesses that have been highly impacted by shutdown restrictions are also eligible to apply for a one-off $10 000 grant from the Victorian government’s Business Support Fund.
My area of Western Metropolitan Region is home to a lot of small businesses.
The action I seek from the minister is to visit some businesses in my area of Western Metropolitan Region once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted to find out how these measures announced for the small businesses have been helpful for them.
Jaala Pulford MP Minister for Small Business (14 September 2021):
I thank the member for their question to my predecessor, the Honourable Adem Somyurek.
Since my appointment as Minister for Small Business in June 2020, I have engaged regularly with small businesses from across Victoria, and their industry representatives to understand how the Victorian Government can continue to support Victorian small businesses survive and recover from the pandemic. I look forward to speaking with the member more about small businesses in the Western Metropolitan Region.
The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring small and medium businesses have the support they need to adapt and survive. Over the course of the pandemic, the Victorian Government has provided more than $10 billion in direct financial support for businesses.
The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have committed more than $4.3 billion in joint funding to ensure Victorian businesses can remain viable throughout lockdown, with automatic top-up payments and grants to help cover wages and overheads. Most recently this has included $2.34 billion to provide a critical four-week boost to small and medium-sized Victorian businesses during the current public health restriction. Key features of the support include:
- The Business Costs Assistance Program Round Four will provide automatic top-up payments of $2,800 a week (annual payroll below $650,000), $5,600 a week (annual payroll of $650,000 to $3 million) or $8,400 a week (annual payroll of $3 million to $10 million) for four weeks, to previous recipients of the BCAP2 and BCAP2 July extension programs.
- Eligible cafes, restaurants and bars will continue to receive Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund automatic top-up payments of $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 per week for licensed hospitality premises that previously received grants under LHVF 2021 and LHVF21 July Extension programs.
- Businesses that have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70 per cent and have been ineligible for other business support grants may be eligible for $20,000 grants under the Small Business COVID Hardship Fund.
Eligible individuals who are sole-trader business owners who lose work and that do not qualify for Victorian Government support programs may be able to access the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment.
The Business Victoria Microbusiness Concierge Service is supporting people working for themselves and microbusinesses with tailored advice regarding Victorian Government business grant programs and assistance to understand the application process for the Commonwealth Government COVID-19 Disaster Payment. The service can be accessed by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 and selecting the Microbusiness Concierge option.
The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme has been reintroduced to provide much needed rent relief to commercial tenants and their landlords. The Scheme will apply retrospectively from 28 July 2021 and will run until 15 January 2022 and will help small and medium-sized businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million that have experienced a loss in turnover of more than 30 per cent during the pandemic. The Victorian Small Business Commission will continue to support tenants and landlords with information and free mediation to negotiate an agreement under the Scheme.
Small businesses in the Western Metropolitan Region can continue to access a range of mentoring and capability building support programs, including:
- The Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring program is available to help small businesses navigate the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Partners in Wellbeing helpline provides free confidential, professional advice and wellbeing support for business owners seven days a week.
- The Small Business Digital Adaptation Program has been extended and provides $1,200 rebates for small businesses to access a range of digital business tools.
Further information on all Victorian Government business supports is available at business.vic.gov.au or by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.