What is the initiative or grants for licenced pubs, clubs and restaurants?

  • On 3 May 2020 the Victorian Government announced that $40 million from the Business Support Fund will be made available through the new Night-time Economy Business Support Initiative to assist licenced pubs, clubs and restaurants experiencing rental stress.
  • The initiative is backed by an industry steering committee, which will advise on its operation.
  • This committee is chaired by Mark Stone AM and includes representatives from industry organisations including the Australian Hotels Association, Community Clubs Victoria, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Restaurant and Catering Association Victoria.

Under this initiative the below support is available to these businesses:

  • Reimbursement of expenses incurred for specialist tenancy and business advice to help the group meet the additional costs incurred in managing rental issues during this period.
  • Free mediation services if required – this service is provided through the Victorian Small Business Commission to eligible businesses on tenanted premises that hold a liquor licence, helping tenants reach agreement with their landlord regarding rent relief.
  • Funding for commercial rental relief of $150,000 per business group where it can be shown that the business has sought to negotiate in good faith with the landlord with no result.

Can I apply for support now?

Yes, but please note that application is a two-step process:

  1. You must first register interest in receiving support through the ‘Register your interest’ button on the Night-time Economy Business Support Initiative webpage. After receiving your registration, a Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) staff member will contact you to discuss your circumstance.
  2. If you are invited to submit a full application, you will be provided with a link to an online form. Please complete all questions to ensure a timely assessment of your eligibility.

Further details on the eligibility criteria can be found at the Night-time Economy Business Support Initiative webpage.

I run a pub/club/restaurant/licenced venue and have been unable to come to an agreement with my landlord on rent relief. What support can I get?

Under this initiative and the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, specialist tenancy and business advice is available to help you manage during coronavirus (COVID-19) and assist you in reaching a fair and proportionate commercial outcome on rental payments during this period.

If required, free mediation services through the Victorian Small Business Commission are also available to help eligible tenant businesses reach an agreement with their landlords on rent relief.

The Victorian Small Business Commission has a step-by-step online guide on negotiating rent relief.

Who is eligible to apply for a grant under the Night-time Economy Business Support initiative?

To be eligible for a grant, businesses must meet all of the following criteria:

  • operate a licensed pub, club and or restaurant on tenanted premises under a general, full club or on-premises liquor licence as part of a group or chain;
  • have employees;
  • have an annual turnover of less than $50 million at each individual premises operating within the group;
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 16 March 2020 (the date the State of Emergency was declared)
  • have been engaged in carrying out the operation of the business at the tenanted premises in the Australian State of Victoria on 16 March 2020;
  • have had a reduction in turnover of at least 30% at one or more individual premises operating within the group since 16 March 2020;
  • do not qualify for the Victorian Government’s Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme under the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020 because the business is part of a group that has an aggregated annual turnover greater than $50 million (in the past financial year).

Does my business have to be registered in Victoria to be eligible?

Business groups that are not registered in Victoria but operate more than one premises in Victoria may apply for support. These applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

What documentation will I need to support my applications?

To support your application, you will also need to provide all of the following:

  • a copy of financial accounts identifying monthly business turnover since March 2019;
  • a copy of the group financial statement for the last financial year5 showing a turnover of greater than $50 million;
  • a copy of the most recent Business Activity Statement (BAS);
  • a copy of the Liquor Licence for each of the premises applicable as at 16 March 2020;
  • a copy of the Commercial Tenancy Agreement applicable at or immediately prior to 16 March 2020, and any variation(s) to the Rental Payment Schedule agreed with the landlord of each of the licensed premises since 16 March 2020;
  • any other materials that support your claim.

I operate a number of premises under my business group, however, one of the individual premises has an annual turnover of more than $50 million, am I still eligible to apply?

Business groups are only eligible if each of the individual premises operating within the group has an annual turnover of less than $50 million.

However, the business group may have a collective annual turnover of more than $50 million.

How does this initiative differ from the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme?

This initiative is designed to support businesses that operate multiple premises but are not eligible for support under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme due to having an annual grouped turnover of over $50 million.

Under this initiative, a business group is eligible if each of the individual premises within the business group has an annual turnover of less than $50 million.

What other Victorian Government programs may I be eligible for?

  • The Business Support Fund is part of the Victorian Government’s $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package to support businesses and workers affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to the Business Support Fund, the Victorian Government is also supporting businesses by providing:
  • Full payroll tax refunds and waivers for the 2019-20 financial year and deferral of payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020-21 financial year for small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million.
  • Rent holiday for commercial tenants in government buildings for 2020.
  • The $500 million Working for Victoria initiative which helps employers find workers fast, while connecting Victorians who have lost employment with new opportunities.