With continuing COVID restrictions in place across Victoria, grants and other support measures are available for eligible Victorian businesses, particularly those most affected by the current restrictions. The Federal and Victorian Governments have committed to continuing financial support, in line with the reopening road map, during the next four to six week period at which point Victoria is expected to reach 80% vaccination rates.
In this section we outline the business support measures considered most relevant to our clients. Please contact our office if you require further assistance to assess your eligibility for the support measures outlined. The COVID Update section of our website may also be of assistance and provides a source of current and up-to-date information regarding grants and support measures.
Business Costs Assistance Program – Round Five
In a jointly funded program from the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, grants will be provided to small and medium-sized businesses, in sectors affected by the current COVID restrictions until the 80% vaccination target is reached. The 80% vaccination target is expected to be reached in early November.
Only those businesses that have previously received or been approved for the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two or July Extension grant will be eligible for the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Five.
The Business Costs Assistance Program Round Five payments will range from between $1,000 to $8,400 per week, depending on the businesses’ employment status and annual payroll size for the 2019-20 financial year.
Payments are made automatically and eligible businesses do not need to apply for the payment. Businesses that remain closed or continue to be severely restricted over the first two weeks of November will also receive automatic payments for that period.
Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund Payments
In another jointly funded initiative from the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, eligible cafes, restaurants, hotels and bars across Victoria will receive automatic Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund payments of between $5,000 and $20,000 per week until the end of October, and continue into November at reduced rates.
Please note these payments are automatic and hospitality businesses that have previously received grants do not need to apply.
Grants Available for the Construction Industry
Construction businesses impacted by the two-week shutdown in Victoria from 21 September to 4 October may be eligible for support under the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Four – Construction. Under this assistance program, one-off grants of $2,000 are available for eligible sole trader construction industry businesses, and one-off grants of between $2,800 and $8,400 for eligible employing construction industry businesses depending on their annual payroll.
Notably, eligible businesses must have incurred direct costs due to the two-week shutdown which have not been partially or fully recovered, and must not have received a Business Costs Assistance Program Round 2, Business Costs Assistance Program Round 2 – July extension payment or Small Business COVID Hardship Fund payment.
Applications for this grant open mid October 2021.
Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund 3
The Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund 3 program offers grants to commercial landlords, with total taxable landholdings under $3 million, who are waiving rent for their tenants as part of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.
The rent waiver must occur between 28 July 2021 and 15 January 2022 under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme and landlords are required to demonstrate that commercial rent represents more than 50 per cent of their total gross income for the 2019-20 financial year.
Those eligible commercial landlords can apply for grants of up to $6,000 per tenancy, although in cases of acute hardship, landlords may be eligible for grants of up to $10,000 per tenancy.
Applications are now open for the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund 3.
Expansion of Support for SME’s to Access Funding
The Government is providing additional support to small and medium sized businesses (‘SMEs’) by expanding eligibility for the SME Recovery Loan Scheme.
Specifically, in recognition of the continued economic impacts of COVID‑19, the Government will remove requirements for SMEs to have received JobKeeper during the March quarter of 2021, or been a flood affected business, in order to be eligible under the SME Recovery Loan Scheme.
As with the existing scheme, SMEs who are dealing with the economic impacts of the coronavirus with a turnover of less than $250 million will be able to access loans of up to $5 million over a term of up to 10 years.
Other key features include:
- The Government guarantee will be 80% of the loan amount.
- Lenders are allowed to offer borrowers a repayment holiday of up to 24 months.
- Loans can be used for a broad range of business purposes, including to support investment, as well as to refinance any pre-existing debt of an eligible borrower.
- Loans can be either unsecured or secured (excluding residential property).
The loans will be available through participating lenders until 31 December 2021.
Small Business Digital Adaptation Program
The Victorian Government Small Business Digital Adaptation Program offers reimbursements of up to $1,200 for digital improvements initiated between 15 November 2020 and 5 December 2021.
Small businesses interested in accessing digital tools to help with, for example, building or upgrading a website, improving cash flow, engaging in online marketing, introducing job or project management systems and keeping track of stock, may benefit from this program.
Products are available from 14 approved suppliers who have partnered with the Victorian Government for the program. The program begins with participating small businesses examining the free product trials and workshops before choosing one or more of the digital products to purchase. Once a purchase has been made, businesses can then apply for the rebate.
The rebate provides access to a product for a period of up to 12 months. Hardware associated with products from approved vendors may be eligible, providing a business purchases the relevant digital licence or subscription.
To be eligible for the rebate, products chosen by a business should be either a new product, involve the upgrade of an existing product with additional features, or the resumption of a product after a minimum twelve-month break.
There are a limited number of rebates in this program and clients are encouraged to explore their digital tool requirements as soon as possible.