Supporting Ballarat Businesses in a ‘COVID-Normal’ Economy: Constituency Question

  • Click here to read this constituency question – and the Minister’s answer – on the Parliament of Victoria website.

My question is directed to the Minister for Employment and Minister for Small Business in the other place and is about business support for local businesses in my electorate of Wendouree.

I wish to thank the minister for her support of Ballarat businesses that have had their livelihoods impacted by the ongoing restrictions of the COVID pandemic and the tireless work she is doing to enable businesses to recover as our economy reopens in a careful, cautious and COVID-safe way.

My question is: how many Ballarat businesses have received payments, grants and/or other refunds, waivers and deferrals from the Victorian government to support them to date, and what further support is available from the Victorian government to help Ballarat businesses prepare and thrive in a ‘COVID-normal’ economy?

Answer from the Hon Jaala Pulford MP, Minister for Small Business (10th November 2020)  – 

Thank you for your question regarding support for businesses in Ballarat. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on many small and medium businesses (SMEs) continues to be significant.

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring our sole traders, micro-businesses and SMEs impacted by ongoing restrictions have access to the support they need to prepare for COVID Normal through cash grants, tax relief, skills programs, and mentoring and wellbeing assistance to make it through to the other side of the crisis.

As part of the Victorian Government’s $6 billion Business Support Package, the Business Support Fund is providing eligible small businesses with one-off cash grants to support them through the restrictions.

The initial round of the Business Support Fund program, which provided one-off $10,000 cash grants to eligible businesses received 1,588 applications from businesses in Ballarat with 1,312 approved. The second round, the Business Support Fund Expansion program received 1,479 applications from businesses in Ballarat with 1,191 approved.

A third round of the program is currently open for applications. Eligible businesses will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000, depending on the business’ annual payroll. The third round has so far received 886 applications from business in Ballarat with 473 approved. Applications for the fund are at the Business Victoria website: business.vic.gov.au.

382 businesses in Ballarat have received payroll tax relief, as part of the Victorian Government’s payroll tax relief scheme, where businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived.

The Victorian Government understands that sole traders in a number of sectors will remain restricted as we move towards reopening the economy. We have therefore announced a $100 million Sole Trader Support Fund, which will provide grants of up to $3,000 to eligible sole traders working in sectors of the economy that will continue to be affected by restrictions. Applications for the fund are now open at the Business Victoria website: business.vic.gov.au.

Small businesses of all sizes and structures are being assisted to adapt, survive and thrive through a range of online workshops and mentoring programs including the Upskill My Business program that offers free premium short courses from the state’s top education providers and industry experts to emerge strongly and ready to succeed.

The Business Recovery and Resilience Mentoring program and access to off-the-shelf digital products will help small businesses adapt their operations to the online environment and prepare them for new market conditions. We have also invested $26 million in the Wellbeing and Mental Health Support for Victorian Business program to help Victorians deal with the compounding challenges of running a business through the crisis.

SMEs who operate out of commercial premises can also apply for the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, including the Victorian Small Business Commission’s free mediation support for landlords and tenants to reach agreement on their leases. The Government has extended the scheme to 31 December 2020 to provide business with certainty at this time.

Small Business Victoria is continuing to offer support to businesses through capability building workshops, the virtual Small Business Bus and mentoring program that are available free of charge. The Business Victoria digital channels provide current COVID-19 business information including the Business Victoria Update free newsletter for businesses to stay informed of new support, grant applications and announcements as they are released.

More information on all other Victorian Government business support measures is at the Business Victoria website: business.vic.gov.au.

 

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