Covid Victoria: struggling businesses still waiting for recovery support

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Tens of thousands of struggling businesses who have asked for a lifeline have yet to receive a recovery dollar.

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More than half of all companies that have requested a government lifeline have yet to receive a dollar in the last round of recovery support.

The Herald Sun can reveal that more than 63,000 businesses are waiting more than a month after announcing dedicated support packages to help businesses get through the state’s fourth lockdown.

Businesses have been made aware of the delays, triggering calls for an automated system to immediately direct grants to affected businesses in the event of further shutdowns.

Of the 113,000 requests for support under the government’s business expense assistance program, 58,000 payments were made for a total of $ 271.5 million.

More than one in 10 of all approved hospitality fund applicants had been paid, with 8,423 of the 9,500 applicants awaiting resolution.

A Berwick cafe owner, who asked not to be named, was told to expect payment on Friday, a month after he was among the first to apply for a grant from the fund.

“I’m really grateful for this and don’t want to be seen as a whimper, but when offering support like this you have to make sure there are processes in place for this to happen,” he said. he declared.

A government spokeswoman said about 10,000 payments had to be made overnight.

He said, on average, payments were made within 10 business days and businesses were notified of delays.

Results were often delayed by incorrect or incomplete information provided on the application forms.

Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang said companies across a wide range of industries have said they wait weeks for any payment to be made.

“For many of these hard-working fathers and mothers, it was a double insult, not only was the promised subsidy disproportionate to the losses suffered, but they were now asked to pay wages, rents and other debts, along with all these expenses paid for without any cash flow and not a cent received from the promised aid, ”Lang said.

“Since the start of this pandemic, Small Business Australia has called for faster, fairer and more direct support for business owners who see their livelihoods turned off and on like a tap by the government and as we move into the era of “preventive” foreclosure. strategy, which will see business owners crushed by repeated blockages, the support offered to them must be substantial and immediate. “

Restaurant and Catering Australia managing director Wes Lambert said the organization was able to help any businesses experiencing delays.

“All of our industry members who were eligible for funding, the majority accepted it, and it has certainly been a lifeline during the long lockdown,” Lambert said.

“We hope that if and when there is a future foreclosure, the Victorian government will switch to another business support program. “

Paul Guerra of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Industry said payments were essential for businesses.

“For those companies that are still waiting for an application, we expect the assessment and payments to be completed quickly, as these support grants will not be of any use until they are paid,” Guerra said. .

“Support payments would not be necessary and public debt would no longer be incurred if we could completely avoid bottlenecks and restrictions and this is the ambition we must have in the future. No more blockages. We need an adequate supply of deployed vaccines and specially designed quarantine facilities to allow Victoria to open with confidence. “

BORDER CONTROL 17 TRAVELERS FLAG

Warnings have been issued to more than a dozen people trying to enter Victoria without a proper permit.

Covid-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said on Wednesday more than 2,000 people had been arrested and checked at the NSW-Victoria border.

Of these, 17 people received warnings.

“It’s very important that we make sure that people are carrying the right documents and returning, on the right principles, and that they know what to do,” he said.

Of 130 checks from Victorians subject to home isolation orders, two cases were referred for further action.

Mr Weimar said authorities were comfortable with compliance levels for a range of Covid-19 measures, including companies using QR code verification systems.

Darwin and Alice Springs, South East Queensland and Townsville including Magnetic Island and Palm Island, Greater Sydney, Shellharbour, Central Coast, Wollongong and the regions of Perth and Peel are now red zones under the Victoria travel permit.

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