Cities and states across the country continue to struggle, with lockdowns mandated to minimise the spread of COVID-19. To assist businesses facing a sharp drop in turnover due to the lockdowns and border closures, the federal government has been working with states and local officials to tailor support packages to their needs.
A number of new funding packages were announced by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg late last week to help businesses in Queensland, Tasmania, Canberra and Melbourne. All of the support packages are jointly funded by the federal and state or territory governments for each jurisdiction.
The value of support flowing to businesses in Queensland has jumped from $260 million to $600 million thanks to a 50-50 funding agreement reached by the federal and Queensland governments.
Businesses that have seen a decline in turnover of more than 30 per cent will now receive support that includes:
- A $1,000 one-off grant to non-employing sole traders across Queensland that have had a decline in turnover of more than 30 per cent.
- Payroll-based support for all businesses across Queensland that have had a decline in turnover of more than 30 per cent.
The payroll support grants are one-off, top-up grants to businesses dependent on their annual payroll. Small businesses with payroll of less than $1.3 million are eligible to receive $5,000, businesses with payroll between $1.3 million and $10 million get $10,000, and entities with a payroll of greater than $10 million will receive $25,000.
Mr Frydenberg said the support for Queensland came because the government realised the impact of lockdowns had been felt across Australia.
Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said: “We know that across Queensland, the lack of international and interstate visitors is affecting businesses every day, especially those in tourism and hospitality.”
The jointly funded package for the ACT targets SMEs specifically, delivering grants of $3,000 to employing businesses and $1,000 to non-employing businesses that have faced losses due to restricted trading conditions.
The ACT entered a snap lockdown on 13 August that is currently slated to last seven days.
The grants will be available to local businesses that have experienced at least a 30 per cent reduction in turnover in the week from 13 August to 20 August 2021 compared to the prior seven‑day period.
The funding is split 50-50 between the Commonwealth and the ACT governments, with the territory government managing the program.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr noted if the lockdown in the ACT was extended, further jointly funded support programs will be considered.
“We understand that this lockdown comes off the back of a period of slower economic activity as a result of outbreak of the virus in Sydney. ACT businesses have been supporting the government’s efforts to respond to the pandemic in the Territory, but that has come at a cost,” Mr Barr said.
The Tasmanian economy is set to get a $20 million injection for businesses struggling with the ongoing impacts of border closures.
The package is jointly funded by the Tasmanian and Australian governments and is targeted at businesses operating in tourism, hospitality, arts and events, seafood and transport sectors, as well as those that have been impacted directly by reduced interstate visitation.
Financial support of between $2,000 and $10,000 will be available to businesses that have suffered a 30 per cent decline in their turnover. The program begins on 17 August.
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said the support scheme would provide relief for the businesses struggling due to the decline in tourism.
“We know many of our businesses that rely on interstate and overseas visitation and trade are operating under severe hardship due to the current border restrictions, and we are taking action and doing what we can to help them through these difficult times,” the Premier said.
With Melbourne’s sixth lockdown extended through 19 August, a further $367 million will be delivered to more than 100,000 businesses across the city under a joint program funded by the federal and state governments.
Under the new initiative, businesses, including sole traders, will receive automatic payments if they have already been approved for a Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two or Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two July Extension grant, or a Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund grant.
SMEs that do not qualify for other existing programs are eligible to apply for a one-off payment of up to $10,000 from the new small business COVID hardship fund.
Victorian Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula said the funding would be crucial for seeing Melbourne businesses through this latest hardship.
“Thousands of businesses will benefit from this new injection of support and we know that the funds are essential to back businesses through this difficult period,” Mr Pakula said.
“We’re acting decisively to get on top of the Delta outbreak and also to give businesses the best chance to emerge in decent shape on the other side.”