Update: Further Business Support Announced

The Victorian Government has today announced a package of grants for the next six weeks, to be jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.

The grants comprise extensions and ‘top-ups’ of existing grant categories that have previously been provided, including the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund. A press statement is attached with details of the grants.

The grants will apply Victoria-wide and are designed to provide support for businesses as they begin to re-open under the phased easing of restrictions based on vaccination targets.

1. Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund (LHVF)

Businesses that have previously applied for and received grants under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund or the July Extension programs will receive further automatic payments in October. This indicates that businesses who have not previously received grants under this fund may not be able to apply for this further round of grants.

Weekly payments continue to be based on patron capacity, as follows:

  • $5,000 for a capacity of up to 99 patrons or where patron capacity is not specified;
  • $10,000 for a capacity of 100 to 499 patrons; and
  • $20,000 for a capacity of 500 or more patrons.

The grants will, however, be reduced once Victoria has met the 70% double dose targets –  payments in metropolitan Melbourne will be reduced by 25%, and in regional Victoria will be reduced by 50%. Today’s press statement clarifies that payments of $5,000 per week will be made for licensees where a ‘patron capacity is not specified’. This is consistent with the language that has been used by Business Victoria in determining the grant, and discussed further below.

2. Business Costs Assistance Program

Eligible businesses will receive automatic grants under this program ranging from $1,000 to $8,400 per week, as follows:

  • $1,000 per week for eligible non-employing businesses;
  • $2,800 a week for eligible businesses with an annual payroll of up to $650,000;
  • $5,600 a week for eligible businesses with a payroll of $650,000 – $3 million; and
  • $8,400 a week for eligible businesses with a payroll of $3 million – $10 million.

These payments will continue until the end of October.

Businesses that remain closed or severely restricted over the first two weeks of November will also receive automatic payments for that period. Businesses that have previously received or been approved for a Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two or July Extension grant will be eligible for these payments. This means that businesses who have not previously received this payment or been approved for it will not be able to apply.

3. Small Business COVID Hardship Fund

Small businesses that meet the eligibility criteria for this payment can receive one-off grants of $20,000.

Today’s press release has not confirmed that eligibility criteria. Previously, businesses were eligible for this grant if:

  • their operations have been severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions;
  • they have experienced at least a 70% reduction in turnover due to these restrictions; and
  • they are ineligible for other COVID-19 Victorian Government business grant programs.

Patron Capacity and the LHVF

As advised in a previous update, we are aware that many licensees are unable to access the extent of grants they ought to be entitled to if their liquor licence does not reflect their current maximum patron capacity, even where a larger patron capacity can be demonstrated through occupancy permits or other documentation.

The latest press release unfortunately does not do licensees any favours – it only reinforces the very rigid approach that has been taken by Business Victoria so far in administering the grant. Further, if for any reason a licensee failed to apply for the LHVF in July then they appear to be ineligible for the automatic top-ups. This represents a significant loss for many licensees.

If you have had any difficulty in obtaining the LHVF top-ups or have had difficulties due to the patron capacity endorsed on your licence then please contact our office to see if we can be of any assistance.  

We will continue to monitor other support available and will advise of any further details when these become available.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.