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SMB industry group welcomes Victorian stimulus as ‘first step’ but says more is needed

COSBOA notes the announcement made by the Victorian Government concerning support for sole traders. A fund of $100 million will be used to provide grants of up to $3,000 for sole traders with commercial leases, helping approximately 33,000 businesses. Other eligibility caveats include that the business must be receiving JobKeeper and registered for GST.

COSBOA CEO Peter Strong said “It’s a welcome first step and we’re pleased that the Victorian Government has listened to the message that sole traders need assistance, but more is needed.

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“We’re hearing a lot of disappointment from our members and there will be many self-employed people who will feel let down by this. 33,000 is only a portion of the 400,000 sole traders in Victoria.

“The $3,000 grants will help those eligible businesses, but they are just drops from a watering can when it needs to rain. $3,000 doesn’t solve the problems that most businesses face right now with back rent and other business expenses including utilities and servicing loans for equipment.”

Mr Strong added “Providing financial support is also essential in achieving the health outcome that we want. COSBOA has been hearing reports of sole traders in some industries being offered cash by clients to break the lockdown rules, for example $400 to travel to someone’s house and give them a haircut. If you’re in extreme financial stress you’re going to be very tempted by that. That’s not something we want happening.”

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Mr Strong further added “there are around 1.4 million sole traders in Australia. They are legitimate business operators, are found in all kinds of industries, and include people like accountants and bookkeepers, financial advisers, business consultants, hairdressers and beauticians, cablers and ICT technicians, private teachers, fitness instructors, various traditional medicine practitioners, musicians and performers, producers, photographers and videographers, florists, owner drivers, professionals of all sorts, and many more. Along with employing small businesses they are part of the backbone of the economy and their local communities.

“If the sole traders who wished to grow their business and employ just one more person had the resources to do so, we could make some serious headway in solving the unemployment crisis.”

Mr Strong concluded “And all sole traders do already employ someone – themselves. Does that not count?”

COSBOA also notes the Victorian Government’s announcement of funding for businesses in the Melbourne CBD to go ‘al fresco.;

Mr Strong said about this announcement “this is very good news and very welcome. People will now be able to purchase outdoor furniture and cover some of the other costs of offering outdoor dining, allowing them to do business in a safe way.”

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