Federal government amends bushfire recovery package

The region’s peak business organisation, the Illawarra Business Chamber, has today welcomed the Federal Government’s Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package as a remedy for small businesses indirectly impacted by recent bushfires.

For months now, the impact on businesses that did not suffer direct property damage has been severe, as they suffered through a collapse in visitation and the cashflow crisis that followed without access to either federal or state government grants.

Instead they were referred to a concessional loans scheme that had a highly complex application process and requirements that were exceptionally difficult to meet.

“Only yesterday I joined business-owners in Ulladulla who expressed their desperate need for cash support, and easier access to both concessional loans and financial advice,” said Adam Zarth, Executive Director of the Illawarra Business Chamber.

“I am pleased that the federal government is now responding to concerns that we have raised on behalf of businesses who are hurting across the Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven and along the South Coast.”

“This will be the first time that businesses indirectly impacted by bushfires have had access to government grants. I know of so many small businesses across bushfire-affected areas in Southern NSW that have experienced a 40 percent drop in revenue or greater, and they will now have access to a $10,000 grant.”

“Importantly, this will allow all affected businesses to seek support and spend locally, for instance seeking financial advice from their accountant or planner, covering staffing costs, and generally keeping businesses up and running.”

“We have also received feedback that the complexity and sheer volume of documentation required to access concessional loans has been prohibitive, so we are pleased to see existing eligibility requirements relaxed and simplified, and that the government will position advisors to assist business owners with their application.”

“This is a welcome response from government, however businesses in bushfire affected regions still seek assurance that they will not be forgotten in the government’s response to COVID-19, including the expected stimulus package,” said Mr Zarth.

Today’s announcement includes:

  • A new $10,000 grant to assist small businesses in bushfire-affected regions that have experienced a 40 percent drop in revenue over a three-month period compared to the previous year,
  • Easier access to concessional loans of up to $50,000, and
  • Business advisors to provide tailored advice.

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