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Government assistance for COVID-19 impacted small businesses: Do you qualify?

In recent months, millions of small business owners across Australia have faced the uncertainty of shifting lockdowns. As a result, state governments in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia 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. 

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 payment types:

While there are different eligibility criteria for each support measure, all three require business owners to demonstrate at least a 30 per cent decline in turnover across a minimum fortnightly period within the Greater Sydney lockdown (which began 26 June 2021), compared to the same period in 2019. 

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

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

The Queensland 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
  • And be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent due to the lockdown, which began 31 July 2021 

More details are expected to become clear when grant applications open in mid-August. In the meantime, subscribe to the Small Business Connect newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest information from Business Queensland. 

Is Victoria 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 $4,800 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 these additional automatic payments.

Visit Service Victoria to learn more about the submission criteria, and apply before 13 August 2021.

  1. 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.
  1. Small Business COVID Hardship FundThe 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 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 $5,000 grant payment when applications open.Keep an eye on Service Victoria for the latest updates.
  1. 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. More details are expected to be announced in the coming days.

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

What about South Australia?

The South Australian 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 per cent 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 South Australia, 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. 

For more information on the types of support available across the country, keep an eye on the state government websites relevant to you.

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Joseph Lyons

Joseph Lyons

Joseph was appointed Managing Director in July 2021, after joining Xero as Executive General Manager of sales in 2019. He is responsible for driving Xero’s next phase of growth in Australia and Asia. He has worked in roles across a range of sectors in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada. Before joining Xero, he was the Chief Commercial Officer at REA Group.

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