The Liberal-National government today announced a new $10,000 grant and simplified access to existing loans and other services for small businesses affected by recent bushfires including the Upper Murray.
Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said today’s support is in response to feedback from fire affected communities to help them get through the recovery as seamlessly and quickly as possible.
The newly-launched Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package will ensure small businesses devastated by the recent bushfires receive immediate support tailored to their individual circumstances.
The package offers new initiatives to help local economies recover faster and simplifies access to current assistance programs by cutting red tape. It includes:
- a new $10,000 grant to assist significantly-impacted small businesses in selected Local Government Areas including the Upper Murray get back on their feet and maintain their businesses. To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires;
- working with the States to ensure greater access to concessional loans with fewer documents and fewer security requirements; and
- more experienced and trusted business advisers available on the ground working directly with small business owners to help them navigate the challenging road to recovery.
The government established the National Bushfire Recovery Agency to lead the recovery.
“We are embedding more staff from the Agency in recovery hubs to provide help to people to access grants, loans, and other services – they can assist small business owners to navigate systems, fill in forms, and get the support they need,” Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said.
Minister for Small and Family Business, Senator Michaelia Cash said small businesses are the backbone of regional economies, and it is critical we work to address their concerns.
“It is also vital that the recovery is led locally through direct support for the small business community,” she said.
The updated package is being funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement. Applications for the $10,000 small business grants will be open from Monday, 16th March.
“This builds on a comprehensive suite of existing support measures that encourage economic growth in fire affected communities like the Upper Murray,” Senator McKenzie added.
“These existing measures were based on feedback we received from affected small businesses and include amending income tax laws to make all relief and recovery payments by Australian governments in relation to the 2019-20 bushfires tax free.
“The further changes announced today will enable small businesses in our local communities to continue to recover and move forward.
“We want to make it easier for those who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been economically impacted following the bushfires, to get back on their feet.”
Further details are available on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/recovery-assistance/small-business
Summary of updates to the bushfire recovery package for small business
$10,000 grants for maintenance costs: Eligible small businesses in LGAs selected by the States can apply for an additional grant of $10,000 to assist with the costs of maintaining their businesses. This may include – but is not limited to – accessing financial advice, covering
salaries, wages, utilities, and fuel. Businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires. Businesses affected directly and indirectly can apply.
$18.2 million for greater access to grants and loans: Existing eligibility requirements for concessional loans up to $500,000 have been relaxed and simplified. This includes lowering the threshold for documentation when applying for a loan.
The requirement for security to be provided for loans up to $50,000 has been removed.
$12.8 million for business advisory services: An additional 21 business experts are being
deployed to recovery hubs including in the Upper Murray and Tallangatta. Small businesses can receive tailored advice, including information about accessing existing forms of assistance.
More face-to-face support for affected communities: Over the coming weeks, up to 20 additional NBRA staff will join existing Recovery Support Teams deployed to bushfire affected areas to provide guidance on administrative processes and application requirements for grants and loans. The teams have been operating since February, and aim to connect people and businesses to the government and non-government support programs most relevant to their circumstances. Five Liaison Officers are currently embedded in State Recovery Centres to ensure the Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments are working hand in glove. Funding is across the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.