As Victoria comes out of lockdown many small businesses are struggling financially. Below are the funding options, grants and financial support available for businesses in Victoria getting back to businesses.
Grants and Financial Support
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal and State Governments have put forward several grants, support packages and discounts to help businesses endure lockdown.
While most of the business community have jumped on benefits such as JobKeeper, many of the government’s offerings have been underutilised thus far. Before reopening your doors, make sure you have taken advantage of all that you are entitled to as a Victorian business.
Be aware of when these offers end so you can prepare you balance sheets for the future.
The JobKeeper scheme has been a lifesaver for thousands of businesses across Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it has helped a lot of people, it does have an end date.
The Federal Government’s JobKeeper program has been extended until 28 March of 2021. However, the amounts being paid will be reduced as of 28 September.
With a current payment of $1,500 per fortnight, the maximum rate offered from 28 September will be $1,200 for ‘Tier 1’ businesses. Entitlement to the ‘Tier 1’ or ‘Tier 2’ rate is based on whether an individual meets an 80-hour threshold.
From 4 January, the amount of JobKeeper will reduce again to $1,000 per fortnight.
For more information on the JobKeeper program and how it affects you and your business, visit the ATO’s website here.
Business Resilience Package
What was heralded as the “biggest package of business support” in Victorian history, the Business Resilience Package was announced on 13 September by Premier Daniel Andrews in an effort to see businesses survive the prolonged shutdown in Victoria.
To the tune of $3 billion, the package includes a third increase to the Business Support Fund with grants of up to $20,000 for small and medium-sized businesses, a $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund, another $100 million for a Sole Trader Support Fund as well as $1.7 billion in deferred tax support.
It is important to note that applications for the cash grants offered as part of the Business Support Fund, closes at 11:59pm on 23 November.
As the businesses become increasingly reliant on digital tools and sales, included in this package is a $20 million voucher program designed to help sole traders and small businesses build their digital capability.
For more information on this grant and if your business can access any of the supports in it, visit the Business Victoria website here.
Sole Trader Support Fund
While many of the grants issued by the State and Federal governments were targeted towards small to large businesses, sole traders were somewhat left out. Hence, the introduction of the Sole Trader Support Fund.
As part of this fund, eligible sole traders can be given a $3,000 grant to help put towards their recovery out of lockdown. It is important to acknowledge that there are stringent criteria that need to be met to qualify, including:
- be a non-employing business
- operate from a commercial premise
- be a current participant in the JobKeeper scheme
- operate in an industry sector that has been heavily restricted or closed
- have not received a BSFe grant
To find out if you qualify for this grant, or for more information, visit the Business Victoria website here.
Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy
While keeping an eye on the future, the Federal Government created the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy which allows eligible employers to receive a 50 per cent subsidy for an eligible apprentice or trainee’s wage.
While this subsidy was only available to small businesses, it was extended in July to allow medium-sized businesses with up to 199 staff. Subsidies are also available to an employer who rehires an apprentice that was dismissed to due to the business restrictions and lockdown.
While claims from small businesses are currently open, claims from medium-sized businesses will open from 1 October and will be available until 30 June 2021.
For more information on this subsidy and whether your business qualifies, speak to Apprenticeship Support Australia who will be able to advise on your best course of action.
While managing to get through lockdown and keeping a business operational throughout the pandemic will be a great achievement for any Victorian business, we all must look to the future and ensure that we don’t only recover, but prosper and grow in the new ‘COVID-normal’ world.
The Victorian Chamber has been proud to advocate for Victorian businesses and our members during the lockdown and will continue to do so as the state makes a recovery. While we welcomed many of the grants and supports brought forward by government, we have heard our members and know there is much more that still needs to be done.
The VCCI will continue to work with Victorian businesses and provide the tools, resources, support, and training needed to prosper into the future.
Business recovery and resilience mentoring
The Victorian Chamber has partnered with the Victorian Government to present a mentoring program to help small businesses navigate the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.
In this program, small business owners can receive one-one-one mentoring sessions with an experienced professional who will help make informed decisions about the future of their business.
The program will offer detailed advice on:
- Business recovery
- Market transformation
- Digital literacy and engagement
- Market and supply chain diversification
- Reskilling and retraining