Update: Further business support announced for Victoria

As foreshadowed yesterday, the Victorian Government has announced further support for businesses impacted by the extension of the current lockdown. A press statement is attached.

The further support announced is as follows:

1. COVID-19 Disaster Payments

COVID-19 Disaster Payments will continue to be made, as follows:

  • Individuals who have lost between 8 and 20 hours of work or a full day of work over 7 days can apply for a payment of $450;
  • Individuals who have lost 20 hours of work or more can apply for a payment of $750;
  • Individuals who receive certain Commonwealth income support payments can apply to receive a $200 Disaster Payment.

These payments continue to be administered through Services Australia.

It is not clear whether this payment will continue to be accessible by staff in Regional Victoria, where they may have lost hours as a result of operational restrictions rather than the fulsome lockdown. The press release referred to payments across the State but comments at the press conference referred to metro Melbourne. This may be clarified when the website is updated to include applications for the period from 13 August 2021 and we will keep you informed.

2. Business Costs Assistance Program

Businesses in metropolitan Melbourne receiving payments under this program will automatically receive a further top-up payment of $2,800. These payments are to be paid within the week but they will not apply in regional Victoria.

3. Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund

Automatic payments will be made to businesses in metropolitan Melbourne that have previously received or been approved for grants under this program. They will not be made for venues in regional Victoria.

Payments will be tiered according to premises capacity, as follows:

  • Venues with a patron capacity of up to 99 will receive a $5,000 payment;
  • Venues with a patron capacity of between 100 and 499 will receive a $10,000 payment; and
  • Venues with a patron capacity of more than 500 will receive a $20,000 payment.  

Please note that venues with a capacity between 100 and 200 are now receiving increased payments of $10,000. Again these payments are to be made within the week.

4. Small Business COVID Hardship Fund

Small businesses that are not eligible for other grant programs and have experienced a 70% reduction in revenue may be eligible for this payment, which was announced as part of a previous tranche of business support.

Eligible businesses can now receive payments of up to $10,000 – which we understand is an increase from the original grant of $8,000. It was also made clear at the press conference that these payments will apply to regional Victoria.

Further information will be made available on the Business Victoria website and it was indicated the applications process for these grants would open today. The types of businesses that are being targeted by this payment are business that are able to be open but have lost custom due to restrictions such as takeaway stores located at shopping centres or pharmacists located in the CBD – could also be eligible.

As with all ‘top-up’ grants, we suggest that all businesses should internally audit their records to ensure that they are receiving all top-up payments. If there are any irregularities these should be raised with Business Victoria.

Declaration for accessing regional businesses

We previously provided a template declaration that individuals can use to declare that their ordinary place of residence is not in metropolitan Melbourne while accessing services and facilities in regional Victoria.

We understand the template as provided by the Victorian Government did not contain the correct start date for the current lockdown. That error has now been corrected – an updated template is attached, referring correctly to the start of the current lockdown on 5 August.

Interestingly it was made clear at today’s press conference by Jeroen Weimar that any person from metropolitan Melbourne who were staying in regional Victoria before the lockdown and stayed through the lockdown should now be returning back to Melbourne if they are residents of metropolitan Melbourne and not remain in regional Victoria.

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.