Expanded relief package for Victorian businesses

A number of key announcements were made over the last 24 hours around Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions and financial relief. Here’s a round-up of the latest info.

Sunday 13 September

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced an additional financial support package for businesses affected by lockdown restrictions. In summary, this provides the following relief to qualifying retail businesses in Victoria:

  • Around 75,000 eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size.
  • The Government will now defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year.
  • $20 million will be allocated for small businesses to access off-the-shelf digital programs such as Shopify or Squareonline, training and workshops designed to help businesses adapt to online operations.
  • Click for Vic, a new website and campaign aimed at encouraging Victorians to support local businesses will be boosted with $8.5 million for more marketing and advertising, and expanding the digital platform and its partnerships with third-party e-commerce providers to sell these strengths far and wide.

Monday 14 September

The announcement today outlined a $290 million package that delivers further support to the entertainment industry, giving many sole traders a helping hand.

The latest announcements are not overly helpful to retailers overall (more on our response to this below). The Victorian Government is essentially putting the focus on this being a ‘summer like no other’. The business relief packages are essentially replacing the current quarter of activity.

Breakdown of today’s announcement as follows:

  • Melbourne City Recovery Fund – $100m to move activities outdoors to welcome people back into the CBD. This will support approximately 16,000 businesses. Includes $30m worth of grants to SMBs to pay for outdoor hospitality and reconfigure rooftops and courtyards for outdoor use. There will be $30m to support cultural events to encourage events back to the CBD. Another $40m toward physical improvements to the streetscape eg wider footpaths, bollards, bike lanes.
  • $3,000 grants for sole traders in the CBD (there will be 33,000 grants available).
  • $87m outdoor hospitality and events package for outside the CBD. Grants of up to $5k to pay for outdoor furniture, training and promotional activity. This is for businesses with payrolls under $3 million.
  • $30m to local Councils to help them implement the streamlining, to include things like street scaping.

Our response to the business relief package and recommended retail roadmap

Although we welcome the Victorian Government’s expanded financial support package for small to medium size businesses (SMBs), we caution it won’t be sufficient to prevent an avalanche of permanent retail closures due to protracted lockdown restrictions.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said: “the immediate grants and tax relief would offer important survival funding for small retailers, but won’t address the fallout of jobs and store closures for medium or larger size retailers which employ the majority of Victorian retail staff.”

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