Strategem | COVID-19 Support Updates

Keeping you up to date with COVID-19 support packages

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As we continue to see heightened restrictions put into place to stop the spread of COVID-19 outbreak, we will continue to bring you updates from the Government in regards to what support packages you may be eligible for.

It’s been a challenging time for both businesses owners and employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus. Our team are here to provide you with the support you need in ensuring you get the financial assistance you are eligible to.

Just like we did at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we will update out blog with announcements from Government ensuring you receive the most up to date information.

If you have any questions or would like any assistance, our Accountants & Advisors are here to provide the support you need.

UPDATE: Tuesday 15 September – Victoria lockdown to ease, gradually

Regional Victorians will move to the third step out of lockdown as restrictions begin to ease as of 11.59pm Wednesday 16 September.

The third step will see regional Victorians no longer subject to staying at home restrictions. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed and up to five visitors will be able to visit from a nominated household.

At this stage Melbourne restrictions have not changed.

“It is such good news, I am so, so pleased and proud of every single regional Victorian who has stayed the course, followed the rules, got tested. They’ve done an amazing job,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

UPDATE: Monday, 14 September – Government announce additional $3 billion

The Victorian Government yesterday announced a $3 billion package to help businesses survive and keep Víctorians in jobs.

The package will be delivered to eligible businesses through cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support.

The latest package takes the Victorian Government’s support to over $6 billion and will see over $1.1 billions in cash grants for small and medium businesses most affected by the coronavirus restrictions. including $822 million for the third round of the Business Support Fund.

Eligible businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size.

So far, the Business Support Fund has provided assistance to over 108,000 businesses.

“For our state to recover, we need our businesses to recover too. As we take our first safe and steady steps towards COVID Normal, this support will help make sure we get through this together” – Premier, Daniel Andrews.

Support for hospitality sector

To provide support for hard hit bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs, hotels and reception centres, the Government will establish a dedicated Licensed Venue Fund of $251 million. This will provide grants of between $10,000 and $30,000 for licensed venues of all shapes and sizes. Further to these grants, the Government will also waive liquor licensing fees for 2021.

Businesses in Victoria’s alpine resorts will also have access to grants of up to $20,000 to help cover their resort fees.

Payroll tax relief provides assistance to 20,000 businesses

More than $540 million worth of payroll tax refunds were given in the last financial year. The Government will now defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year, providing a much needed $1.7 billion cashflow boost for businesses.

Further to the above, the Government will provide a further $137 million in waivers and deferrals of charges including licence fees, the congestion levy and increases to the landfill levy.

Stamp duty discount to be brought forward

The 50 percent stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property across regional Victoria will be brought forward to 1 January 2021 and the Vacant Residential Tax will be waived for properties that are vacant in 2020.

Finding a new COVID normal

The Government will invest $44 million to equip businesses with the support they need to adjust to a new COVID normal. This will provide access to off-the-shelf digital programs and training and workshops designed to help businesses adapt to online operations.

“As we drive down case numbers and reach COVID Normal – we’re providing billions of dollars in support to make sure businesses make it through to COVID Normal.” – Treasurer, Tim Pallas.

Click for Vic to expand

The new website aims to encourage Victorians to support our local fresh food, wine, galleries and homewares businesses. A further $8.5 million will see more marketing and advertising, an expansion of the digital platform and partnerships with third-party e-commerce providers.

Exports are vital to Victoria’s economy

The Government are launching a $15.7 million export recovery package to provide assistance to the logistics and supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will also help to establish new export channels.

UDPDATE: Sunday, 18 August – The latest news after Victoria’s second lockdown

The latest lockdown restrictions imposed on Victorian’s have seen businesses take yet another hit after already struggling through the coronavirus outbreak.

Businesses who were just getting back to regular operation were forced to once again close and implement their pandemic trading plans.

The latest business support package includes:

  • Providing grants of $10,000 for Melbourne and Mitchell Shire employing businesses and $5,000 for like businesses in regional Victoria (except Mitchell shire)
  • A $30 million dedicated fund for Victoria’s night time economy to support the hardest hit businesses in hospitality
  • $26 million in mental health support to help Victorian’s deal with the challenges of running a small business during these times
  • $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way the rough these challenging times
  • $40 million capped funds for regional tourism businesses to cover the costs of refunds
  • $20 million find to support small business in Melbourne’s CBD that are facing large changes to their trading environments

Impacted and eligible businesses will also benefit from an extended and expanded payroll tax deferral. Eligible businesses with payrolls of up to $10 millions have the option of deferring their liabilities for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.

Business Support Fund – Expansion program

Applications for grants of $10,000 for Melbourne and Mitchell shire and $5,000 for regional Victoria are open and close on September 14.

Businesses who have already received a grant or have applied, do not need to reapply. Successful applicants will automatically receive the additional grant.

Accommodation industry grants

The latest restrictions have forced travelling guests to cancel their accommodation. To help with covering the costs of refunds, accommodation businesses in regional Victoria can apply for direct financial support through the Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program.

Eligible accommodation providers can apply for funding of $225 (ex GST) per night to a maximum of $1,125 (ex GST) per bookable accommodation offering if they receive cancellations subject to the Stay at Home Restrictions – for bookings made prior to the Stay at Home announcements.

Applications to receive this support are open until September 14.

Support for hospitality industry

As part of the Victorian Governments $20 million commitment to help small and medium businesses in Melbourne’s impacted CBD, CBD Small Hospitality Grants have been made available for businesses facing significant impacts for to the changes in their trading environment.

The $10 million CBD Small Hospitality Grant allows for grants of $5,000 and $15,000 to be made available to eligible businesses.

The Hospitality Business Grant Program provides $25,000 grants to eligible businesses, who have a payroll of $3-$10 million, plus an additional $5,000 for each additional premise, capped at $20,000; and a further $20,000 for those with premises located in the Melbourne CBD.

More Information click here

UPDATE: Tuesday, 21 July – Government announces extension of JobKeeper Payment Scheme

The Government today announced that the JobKeeper Payment Scheme will be extended beyond September.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the scheme would be extended until March 2021 however changes to the payment amounts will see a decrease in the fortnightly rates.

The payment subsidy for full-time workers will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight, and part-time workers will receive a lower rate of $750. The final quarter will see a further reduction in rates with full-time workers receiving $1,000 per fortnight and part-time workers will receive $650.

To continue receiving the JobKeeper scheme, businesses will have to pass a turnover test to ensure eligibility. Businesses with a turnover of up to $1billion are required to show a 30 per cent drop, while businesses with more than $1billion are required to show a 50 per cent decline.

Companies will face a renewed eligibility test of turnover in October.

In addition to changes to the JobKeeper Payment Scheme, those receiving the JobSeeker payments will see their payments cut back to $800 a fortnight from September.

Scott Morrison stated “In the second phase which will be at the end of September, we will be moving to a higher rate of job search”.

“We Will be reintroducing the assets test for eligibility for those payments and we’ll be reintroducing assets waiting period at that time”.

As of August 4, the Government will be requiring those on the dole to to connect with employment services and search for jobs at least four times a month, with penalties kicking in for those who refuse a role.

Extra support announced to help businesses impacted by the latest lockdown

With heightened COVID-19 restrictions continuing to be enforced within Victoria, the Victorian Government have responded by announcing a $534 million support package for businesses impacted by the latest lockdown.

The package includes:

  • A $30 million fund for hospitality businesses
  • A $26 million mental health support package for small business
  • A $40 million fund to help regional tourism businesses to cover refunds and marketing
  • $20 million for small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD
  • $5,000 grants to be made available for 80,000 eligible businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

The new business support package allows businesses to benefit from extended payroll tax deferral, with eligible businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million having the option to defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020-21 financial year.

Grants available for 80,000 eligible Melbourne businesses

The support fund recently announced by Government includes access to $5,000 for 80,000 eligible businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

Businesses can apply if they meet the following criteria:

  • operate a business located in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire
  • be a participant in the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme
  • employ people
  • be registered with WorkSafe on 30 June 2020
  • have an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis
  • be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) as at 30 June 2020
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020
  • be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.

The grants can be used to help provide support cover the following:

  • meeting business costs, including utilities, salaries or rent
  • seeking financial, legal or other advice to support business continuity planning
  • developing the business through marketing and communications activities
  • any other supporting activities related to the operation of the business.

Applications for the grants close on 19 August 2020. To read more and to see if your business is eligible to apply visit: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/…/bus…/business-support-fund

Government commits $36 million toward mental health

Further to the support package, Treasurer Tim Pallas stated the Government was waiting “with baited breath” to see whether the Federal Government would extend the JobKeeper payments.

He said more information was likely on July 23, which would inform the State Government about what additional support measures were required.

“This is us saying we’re here with you all the way through a very traumatic and distressing time for all Victorians,” Treasurer, Tim Pallas

The Government will also invest $36 million towards mental health support and mentoring for business owners and operators, including sole traders doing it tough because of the pandemic.

Getting your Tax organised this tax time

We understand this tax season looks a little different to previous years. Our staff are still available to help you complete your tax return. To protect the health of our staff, and our clients, we are currently not booking any face-to-face appointments.

We are offering phone and online Zoom appointments to all clients, including for tax appointments.

For clients who need to get documents to our Accountants or Advisors we are encouraging you to use our Secure Online Client Portal which allows the safe transfer of documents and also allows for electronic signings.

We appreciate your understanding of the above measures and we look forward to being able to support you through this tax season, and through these unprecedented times.

Our staff are continuing to work from home but remain available to provide you with the support you need. To make an appointment with an Accountant to complete your tax return, please phone our office on (03) 5445 4777.

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