The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption and placed countless businesses in turmoil. Though the pandemic has put so many businesses in jeopardy, the State and Federal Governments have put forward an astounding number of grants, support packages and assistance programs to help businesses not only survive lockdowns but thrive in growth markets in some cases.
With the deluge of support available, it has become nearly impossible to distinguish and discover which grants and support measures are available to each business. The Victorian Chamber’s Grant Finder tool was launched in July 2021 for that exact reason.
To date, hundreds of our members have searched for, found, and set update notifications for different support packages and assistance programs. Here are the most sought-after grants, packages and assistance programs searched by our members.
Business Resilience Package
The Business Resilience Package was announced on 13 September 2020 by Premier Daniel Andrews in response to the prolonged lockdown in Victoria from June to October.
The $3 billion package included a third increase to the Business Support Fund, a $100 million injection to the Melbourne City Recovery Fund, $100 million for a Sole Trader Support Fund, and $1.7 billion in deferred tax support.
Also included in the package was a $20 million voucher program designed to help sole traders and small businesses build digital capabilities.
Applications for the cash grants offered as part of the Business Support Fund, closed on 23 November 2020.
Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF)
Announced by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in October 2020, the ABGF was founded as a public-private partnership between the Federal Government and six major banks as a growth capital provider for small to medium-sized businesses.
Established businesses with an annual revenue of $2-100 million can seek an injection of between $5 and $15 million of growth capital in the business for a minority stake. The fund has been designed so the business owners will always retain a majority share of their established business.
Only businesses who have demonstrated three consecutive years of revenue growth and profitability are eligible for consideration, however, assessments will take into account the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information about the fund, visit the Australian Business Growth Fund website.
Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Services program
As part of the Federal Government’s commitment to enhance the digital capabilities of small businesses and sole traders in both Metropolitan and Regional areas, the Digital Solutions Program allows businesses to seek specialist advice from experienced digital experts across four disciplines:
- Websites and selling online
- Social media and digital marketing
- Using small business software
- Online security and data privacy
While the first interaction with the Digital Solutions Program is free, businesses who continue with the program are able to access services at subsidised rate – costing the business no more than $60.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many small businesses and sole traders, Digital Solutions providers are now also offering general business advice and support on a range of issues, including:
- Crisis management and business continuity planning
- Finance management and boosting cashflow
- Staff management and creating a safe work environment
- Retaining and staying connected to customers
- Resilience and wellbeing
- COVID-19 stimulus packages for small business
Industry Growth Centres Initiative
Designed to propel Australia’s burgeoning industries, the Industry Growth Centres Initiative was established by the Federal Government to increase collaboration and commercialisation, enhance workforce skills, and help identify opportunities for regulatory reform across six key and strategic growth areas:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Cyber security
- Food and agribusiness
- Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals
- Mining equipment, technology, and services
- Oil, gas, and energy resources
Each Industry Growth Centre is an industry-led, not-for-profit organisation, established to provide a strategic vision for its sector.
The Initiative also offers some grants for projects within the same six industry sectors.
Budding and established Australian entrepreneurs can receive practical advice and mentorship to help evolve simple ideas into successful and viable businesses across both national and global markets.
Initially announced during as part of the 2014-15 Federal Budget, the Entrepreneurs Programme also offers some grant funding to suitable candidates, industry experts (facilitators) will offer advice and help candidates understand the intricacies of any of the following areas:
- Digital and technology
The Federal Government established the program in partnership with leading private sector organisations such as Deloitte and CSIRO who act as delivery partners - connecting entrepreneurs with facilitators.
Small Business COVID Hardship Fund
The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund was established to support Victorian businesses that are allowed to continue operating during Lockdown Six, but are ineligible for other Victorian Government COVID-19 business support programs. On 19 August, an additional $72 million was added to the fund, bringing the fund’s total to $252 million.
Providing grants of $14,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, the program will be open for applications until either the program’s funds are exhausted or 11:59pm on Friday 10 September 2021, whichever is earlier.
There are strict eligibility criteria for a business to be eligible, including:
- The business must have a valid ABN
- The business must be registered for GST
- Demonstrate a reduction in turnover of at least 70 per cent for a two-week period since 27 May 2021
- The business must not have received funding under any of the Victorian Government COVID-19 support packages launched on or after 27 May 2021
More information and further eligibility criteria can be found on the Business Victoria website.
Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme
With the State Government’s announcement of new regulations on 25 August, the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme requires landlords to provide commercial tenants with rent relief proportional to the business’ decline in revenue. For example, businesses that have lost 50 per cent of their revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may only be charged 50 per cent of the rent owed. Of the balance owed by the tenant, at least half must be waived, with the remainder to be deferred.
The tenant must have experienced a decline of at least 30 per cent of revenue and have an annual turnover of less than $50 million to be eligible.
When determining the timeline for when revenue has declined, tenants are now able to choose three consecutive months between 1 April and 30 September 2021 and compare their turnover to the same three-month period in 2019.
In a bid to also support landlords, the Victorian Government will also provide land tax relief of up to 25 per cent, in addition to any previous relief – at an estimated cost of $100 million to the State.
The Scheme will apply retrospectively from 28 July 2021 and will run until 15 January 2022.
Tenants and landlords can contact the Victorian Small Business Commission for further information.
To access the Victorian Chamber Grant Finder, members can head to the website now and begin their journey to discover Government support.
Not a member? Join before 31 August to get your full membership fee back in bonus credits plus access to the Victorian Chamber Grant Finder.
For more information about each individual grant, contact the relevant government department listed on the grant or support service you want to access, as they will always be the best source of information.