29 Jan 2020

In response to the recent bushfires across Australia, the Federal Government has announced a suite of measures to immediately support impacted small businesses.

The measures fall under the following 5 areas.

Grant funding

To build on the disaster recovery grants put in place by state governments, the Federal Government will provide top-up grants to eligible small businesses and non-profit organisations under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

This program is uncapped and means that businesses and organisations that have sustained damage as a result of the fires can access up to $50,000 in grant funding (tax free).

Small Business Victoria is currently working with an experienced service provider on the provision of these grants. Information on how small businesses can apply for these grants will be available on business.vic.gov.au when details are finalised.

Concessional loans

To provide maximum flexibility for eligible businesses, loans of up to $500,000 will be offered for businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or a significant loss of revenue. The loan would be for up to 10 years and used for the purposes of restoring or replacing damaged assets and for working capital.

The loans will be available with a repayment holiday of up to 2 years, with no interest accruing during this period. The subsequent interest rate would be set at 50% the 10-year Commonwealth government bond rate (currently around 0.6%).

Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line

A Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line will be established to fund ten additional financial counsellors with the ability to provide advice to around 100 small businesses a day.

The Support Line will be staffed by small business specialist financial counsellors who will provide information on the assistance and support available to small businesses in bushfire-affected regions.

While the specialist Support Line is being established, businesses can call 13 28 46.

Local economic development plans

The Federal Government will work with the Victoria State Government and local councils, business groups and community organisations to develop Local Economic Recovery Plans.

These plans will be locally developed and locally led to ensure the focus in each community is on the infrastructure and assets they need to rebuild.

Tax relief

Taxpayers in affected postcodes will now have until 28 May 2020 to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns. Affected businesses that pay their PAYG instalments quarterly are also allowed to vary these instalments to zero for the December 2019 quarter and claim a refund for any instalments made in the September 2019 quarter.

These measures will help small businesses with much-needed cashflow support during this difficult time.

Read the full press release on the Prime Minister's website.