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Helping small businesses impacted by COVID-19 access support across Australia

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Joseph Lyons

Aug 6, 2021

This article was published on Thursday, 30 September 2021. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, you can find the information you need on government support at Service NSW, Business Queensland, Business Victoria, Business Tasmania, Business Recovery NT, or the SA Business Information Hub.

In recent months, millions of small business owners across Australia have faced the uncertainty of shifting lockdowns. As a result, state governments in NSW, QLD, VIC and SA have each announced support packages to help those who have been impacted by pandemic restrictions. 

While some states, like NSW, have been refining and rolling out their financial assistance measures for weeks, others are yet to announce details and specifics. So to help small business owners and their advisors understand what help is and will become available in the coming weeks, we’ve broken down the support packages in each state. Read on to learn more and work out your next steps. 

Tell us, what help is available in NSW?

In July, the Federal and NSW governments announced a COVID-19 business support package to help those who have been impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown. This includes three payments types:

  1. COVID-19 business grant
  2. JobSaver
  3. COVID-19 micro-business grant

While there are different eligibility criteria for each support measure, all three require business owners to demonstrate at least a 30 percent decline in turnover across a minimum fortnightly period within the Greater Sydney lockdown (which began 26 June 2021), compared to one of three options: the same period in 2019, the same period in 2020, or the fortnight immediately before 26 June 2021.

Accountants and BAS agents, your eligible small business clients will need you to provide a letter that verifies this drop in turnover. To help you calculate this decline, Xero has created a COVID-19 Business Support tool

Applications for the COVID-19 business grant close Friday 1 October, while some JobSaver and micro-business grant recipients may need to re-confirm their eligibility or notify Service NSW if they’re no longer eligible to receive payments by Sunday 3 October.

To learn more about the NSW support package, read Xero’s blogs on the COVID-19 business grant, as well as JobSaver and the COVID-19 microbusiness grant, or head to the Service NSW website

What do we know about QLD’s support measures so far? 

The QLD government has announced plans for a 2021 COVID-19 Business Support Grants program. At this stage, Business Queensland outlines this as a $5,000 one-off support payment to help small and medium businesses across QLD – not just those in the South East – impacted by stay-at-home restrictions.

So far, to be eligible for a COVID-19 Business Support grant, you must:

  • have an annual turnover of more than $75,000
  • have payroll expenses of up to $10 million in the state of QLD
  • be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent due to the lockdown, which began 31 July 2021
  • submit your application before 16 November for employing businesses, or 30 November for non-employing businesses.  

Subscribe to the Small Business Connect newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest information from Business Queensland. 

Is VIC offering any financial support? 

The VIC government has various grants and programs available to help small businesses impacted by shifting lockdowns, of which, there are three broad support measures: 

  1. Business Costs Assistance Program (July extension)
    For business owners who haven’t yet applied or qualified for the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two, the VIC government is offering those who have since become eligible an opportunity to apply for a $5,600 grant.Since Victoria went into its sixth lockdown (which began 5 August 2021), the Commonwealth and Victorian governments have announced a top-up to this program. Those who have received or are eligible to apply for BCAP (either in the first round or the July extension) could qualify for an additional $2,800, with top-ups expected to be automatically paid by 20 August 2021.Visit Business Victoria to learn more about the submission criteria, and apply before 13 August 2021.
  2. Business Continuity Fund
    This support measure was introduced at the end of July to help Victorian business owners that are impacted by capacity limits as a result of the most recent lockdown. Those who have received or are eligible for the
    Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two could qualify for a $5,000 grant, while an additional $2,000 could be granted to business owners located in Melbourne’s CBD.
  3. Small Business COVID Hardship Fund
    The VIC government has announced plans for a new fund that will help small businesses that have not yet qualified for any other existing support. At this stage, eligible businesses (including  employing and non-employing)  must have a payroll of up to $10 million or have experienced at least a 70 percent decline in turnover. Those who qualify could receive a $14,000 grant payment. Applications are open until Friday, 10 September or until funds are exhausted.
  4. Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
    This fund is designed to help VIC licensed hospitality venues that didn’t receive or were ineligible for the Business Costs Assistance Program. For those that haven’t already qualified for this grant, you may be eligible to apply for the July extension.The Commonwealth and VIC support package (announced 5 August 2021) has given this fund a boost to help those impacted by the sixth lockdown. Hospitality venues that have been approved for this support measure could automatically receive one of three payment amounts in the coming weeks, depending on venue capacity. This includes:

    • $5,000 for a capacity of up to 99 patrons
    • $10,000 for 100 to 499 patrons
    • $20,000 for a capacity of 500+

Keep an eye on Business Victoria to stay up-to-date with the latest developments.

What about SA?

The SA government recently announced a COVID-19 Business Support Grant Program to help thousands of small and medium-sized businesses impacted by its most recent lockdown (which began 20 July 2021). It’s offering grants of $3,000 to employing businesses and $1,000 to non-employing businesses. To qualify, you must have:

  • Experienced at least a 30 percent decline in turnover between 20 July and 26 July 2021 compared to the prior week 
  • An annual turnover of $75,000 or more 

As a small business owner or an advisor with clients in SA, you will have to declare the drop in turnover as a result of stay-at-home restrictions. However, unlike other states, you won’t be expected to provide any supporting information when applying for a grant. Instead, you must retain the turnover comparison data as well as records like cancelled appointments, events or orders. 

Visit the SA Business Information Hub for more details on the eligibility requirements, and apply through the Department of Treasury and Finance portal before 30 September 2021. 

Is there any help available in ACT?

Since the ACT went into a lockdown on Thursday, 12 August, the state and Commonwealth governments have announced two key support measures to help small businesses:

  1. Business support grant
    Grants of $3,000 (for employing businesses) and $1,000 (for non-employing businesses) will be made available to those who are impacted by stay-at-home restrictions. To qualify at this stage, you or your ACT clients must:

    • Demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent in the week from 13 to 20 August 2021, compared to the prior seven day period
    • Have an annual turnover of more than $75,000
  2. COVID-19 Small Business Hardship Scheme
    Eligible small businesses could receive up to $10,000 support from the ACT government in the form of credits for either payroll tax, utilities, rates or business-related charges. Those who apply must be able to demonstrate at least a 30 percent loss of revenue, and have annual turnover of between $30,000 to $10 million.The ACT Business Hub is expected to release more details in the coming days.

What support is available in TAS? 

On 13 August, the TAS and Commonwealth governments announced a new business support package to help those who are impacted by ongoing border closures with some of the state’s biggest visitor markets, like VIC and NSW. 

Eligible small business owners – including sole traders – could apply for a grant of between $2,000 to $10,000. The payment amount depends on operational size and annual turnover. To qualify for a grant, you must have:

  • Experienced at least a 30 percent decline in turnover since 26 July 2021, compared to the same period prior to that date
  • An annual turnover of between $50,000 up to $10 million

Visit Business Tasmania to learn more about the Border Closure Critical Support Grant, and apply when submissions open on Tuesday, 17 August.

What about the NT? 

Since the NT went into lockdown on 16 August 2021, its government announced a new round of funding for the Territory Business Lockdown Payment. Those who qualify could receive a one-off $1,000 payment after demonstrating a minimum 50 percent decline in turnover as a direct result of the stay-at-home restrictions, among other eligibility criteria listed here.

For more information on the types of support available across the country, keep an eye on the state government websites relevant to you or your clients. In the meantime, head to Xero’s Business continuity hub for more resources and guidance on how to support your business during this challenging period.

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