Victoria’s coronavirus response has seen eligible businesses from metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire, that received or applied for the initial grant, receive a further $5,000 in response to the state’s latest lockdown.
This has meant that Melbourne-based businesses may receive a total of $20,000 through the government’s Business Support Fund, while regional businesses can expect up to $15,000.
“The first batch of these additional payments to metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire went out yesterday, while applications for regional Victorian businesses opened on Friday,” Premier Dan Andrews said on Monday.
Already this year, $776 million has been paid to 77,600 businesses across Victoria, as part of the state’s $1.7 billion economic survival package.
The government stepped up its support with the introduction of stage 4 restrictions, which have seen thousands of businesses shut their doors for a second time in months to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We want businesses to survive this pandemic — we want people healthy and back at work. We want to begin the process of rebuilding our economy and our community and setting us up for the future,” Mr Andrews said.
“We can’t get to that point unless we all play a part in making this strategy work, but we will continue to support businesses to the other side.”
But, while the government has stepped up its support to hiring small businesses, sole traders that do not employ have been overlooked, prompting many to take a stand and voice their concerns.
Sole trader and real estate buyer’s agent Wendy Chamberlain has launched a petition to pressure the Victorian government to help sole traders.
As of midday Monday, Ms Chamberlain’s petition counted over 1,450 signatures and was growing by the minute.
The government, however, has argued that sole traders are eligible for both JobSeeker and JobKeeper, while the Business Support Fund is specifically targeted at employing businesses that have been impacted by stay-at-home restrictions.
Recently, Martin Pakula, the Victorian minister for industry support and recovery, told 2GB radio that the government could not afford to extend the grants to sole traders.
“In the first trance of Business Support Funds, we paid out $10,000 to 77,000 businesses. If we included sole traders, that number would have at least doubled, probably quadrupled,” Mr Pakula said.
“We simply don’t have the capacity to do that.”