Victorian Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford has laid out the path ahead for Victorian small businesses at Intuit QuickBooks’ most recent virtual town hall.
- A roadmap out of lockdown to provide certainty for businesses.
- Access to grants and initiatives.
- More government support on the way.
News about additional help imminent
It’s never been more important for small businesses, especially those in lockdown in Victoria, to understand what’s driving government decisions and the support available to them through these challenging times.
So we were fortunate to hear from Victorian Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford at our most recent virtual town hall, held just a few days after the Victorian government announced its roadmap out of current stage three and four restrictions.
These town hall meetings are part of our commitment to small businesses and their accounting advisors.
As Simeon Duncan, Intuit QuickBooks’ senior manager, international government relations (ASEAN), explained to the 200-strong audience, “our mission at Intuit QuickBooks is to back small businesses to help them understand their cash flow to better predict and understand different scenarios such as navigating the challenges of COVID.”
Small businesses appreciate access to many divergent views, and previous town halls have welcomed:
- Michaelia Cash, federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.
- Brendan O’Connor, federal Shadow Minister for Employment, Science and Small and Family Business.
Upcoming town halls will feature:
- Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
- Judy O’Connell, Victoria’s Small Business Commissioner.
Upfront, Minister Pulford acknowledged the difficult conditions facing small businesses in Victoria. “We recognise this year has been incredibly difficult. While the roadmap we announced has provided people with certainty, we know the business community had hoped for a faster end to lockdown.”
She asked for forbearance and patience while the state works towards a new COVID normal. “These restrictions are the only way forward until a vaccine or better treatments are found. Your sacrifices make a difference. We are continuing to do everything in our power to get to the other side of the pandemic.”
Many layers of support
During the meeting Minister Pulford outlined the support available for small businesses. These include:
- The Business Support Fund, which provides $10,000 grants to eligible businesses in Melbourne and $5,000 grants to eligible businesses in regional Victoria including the Mitchell shire. Applications close on 14 September.
- $30 million to support Victorian hospitality businesses suffering as a result of the closure of the night time economy.
- $26 million for mental health support for Victorian small business owners.
- $10 million business mentoring package to connect small business owners with people who can assist them to tackle the crisis.
- $40 million fund to support regional tourism businesses to cover the costs of refunds they need to make to customers whose bookings they have to cancel.
- $20 million for small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD.
- The ability for eligible businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million to defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.
- Commercial tenancy relief scheme, which is helping to alleviate hardship faced by both tenants and landlords. New rules are due to be announced shortly that will mean rent reductions will be more in proportion to the business’s loss of revenue.
Further announcements are expected soon about the Victorian government’s next support package, including enhanced powers for the Victorian small business commissioner. “We’re finalising that at the moment,” the minister said. The Business Victoria site, which is updated regularly, is the best place to go for information about how the government can help your business.
During the meeting, Minister Pulford recognised sole traders were disappointed they could not access the Business Support Fund. She said the government understands it has more work to do to help sole traders access help. She also accepted how hard this year has been for tourism operators, especially following last summer’s bushfires. But she hoped this would turn around after lockdown and internal travel restrictions were ended given Australians are likely to travel within the country for the moment, which should help local tourism businesses. “We have a marketing campaign for our tourism sector ready to go,” she said.
Many examples of ingenuity
Minister Pulford acknowledged how incredibly challenging this year has been, but she was inspired and heartened by the ingenuity shown by many firms.
“Businesses should be proud of their efforts and the government is thankful for them,” she noted.
Some of the enterprising firms she highlighted included:
- Nobody Denim: this Melbourne fashion business is now making face masks.
- Gekko Innovation Systems: the mining equipment supplier has started making ventilators for use in its local community.
In her final comments, Minister Pulford praised the extraordinary lengths to which Victorian businesses are going to adapt to the current circumstances.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy and community and I’ll be your champion in government,” she said.
Click here to find out more about how Intuit QuickBooks can help you get control of your cash and finances through market cycles.