The Victorian government has lifted the lid on its $534 million support package for small businesses struggling to turn a profit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most recent pledge brings Victoria’s total support packages to $6 billion, according to the state Treasurer.
Key elements of the expanded business support fund include:
- $30 million in funding for the hospitality industry
- $26 million for mental health support packages for small businesses
- $40 for regional tourism businesses
- $20 million for small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD
- 80,000 grants worth $5,000 being made available to businesses in Melbourne’s metro areas
The package will also allow Victorian businesses to extend their payroll tax deferral.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has said that Victoria’s unemployment rate could reach as high as 11%, with its gross state product figure set to drop by around 14%.
“We are expecting that there will be literally billions of dollars written off the expected size of the Victorian economy,” Pallas said, adding that “it will take some years before we see that level of economic activity come back.”
“This is a testing time for business,” he said, adding that “we are putting in place real, tangible efforts to assist the community, and those real tangible efforts will be ongoing.”
Victoria has recently re-introduced lock-down measures following a second spike of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In reference to the payroll tax deferral scheme, Mr Pallas said that “eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020-21 financial year.”
The Victorian government has previously stated that it is waiting “with baited breath” to see if the Federal Government will either end or extend its JobKeeper payments, which have been a saving grace for a number of businesses struggling amid the pandemic.
“This is us saying we’re here with you all the way through a very traumatic and distressing time for all Victorians,’ Mr Pallas said.
“The government will also invest $36 milion toward mental health support and mentoring for business owners and operators including sole traders doing it tough because of the pandemic,” he said.
Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for Industry Support and Recovery has said that “there is some marketing support there which will obviously wait until we are at a point where we are actively encouraging people from the regions to move around… that is not today.”
“These support measures are about ensuring the survival of business while we work through this very regrettable second phase of lockdown and come through the other side,” he said, adding that the $5000 grant program is not designed to replace income lost.
“They are designed as a survival payment to try and deal with overheads and outgoings over this period of time.”
In reference to the $30 million support package for the hospitality industry, Mr Pakula said “there were a number of businesses who did not benefit from the initial tranche of support, given the size of their payroll.”
“So some of those larger restaurants, pubs and hospitality venues will be supported under this $30 million fund for the night-time economy.”
Melbournes Lord Mayor Sally Capp has welcomed the news of the government’s support package, noting the impact of a 81% drop in pedestrian traffic compared to this time last year.
“This means up to 800,000 people each day are adhering to restrictions and not coming into the central city. This is devastating for our businesses, but necessary to keep our community safe,” she said.
“We can’t afford to lose our world-class food, cafe and retail culture that’s been built up over the last 30 years. If you can, please continue to support your favourite city restaurants, cafes and shops through takeaway orders and online shopping,” she wrapped up.