Sarah Courtney,Minister for Small Business, Hospitality and Events
The Department of State Growth, through Business Tasmania, has worked hard to support Tasmanian businesses to address the unprecedented challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the COIVD-19 Small Business Support grant programs, more than $60 million in support has been delivered with more than 18,200 grants provided to Tasmanian small businesses across the state.
In fact, two recent reports, including the Grattan Institute (28 June 2020) and the Australia Institute (28 May 2020) has found that Tasmania provided the most fiscal support responding to COVID-19 in Australia as a share of our economy.
We are helping as many Tasmanians as we can through this challenging time, and the Department has committed to reviewing any individual applications by businesses that believe they have been unfairly assessed, or are seeking advice in relation to the outcome of the assessment for the Small Business Hardship Grant Scheme.
As of 1 July 2020, the Department has completed the review of 85 applications, with a total of 17 recipients to receive additional funding following that assessment, representing under one per cent of the 2,870 successful applications for this scheme. A total of 141 applications have been received by the Department for review.
The intent of this program was to respond to the gaps and needs of Tasmanian small businesses as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, with an initial $20 million allocation providing hardship grants of $15,000. A further boost of more than $6 million was subsequently added to the program, as well as a boost of more than $13 million to the Small Business Emergency Grants Scheme.
On the advice of State Growth, the additional $6 million funding was used to provide for a second round of $4,000 hardship grants in order to support even more businesses. The smaller hardship grants were assessed at a lower threshold, meaning that many small businesses that did not score highly against all of the eligibility criteria in the first round were able to receive support that otherwise would not have been available to them under the program.
The allocation of these grants by the Department of State Growth was done through a competitive assessment process, and it is important to note that 72 per cent of applicants were successful under this program, with a total of over $26 million provided across the state through the Hardship grant program.
Applications were assessed on a case-by-case basis, with staff working to diligently and quickly assess applications to ensure support could be provided as quickly as possible.
I would like to thank the dedicated staff at Business Tasmania and the Department of State Growth, who have worked tirelessly to support Tasmanian business, through assessing grant and loan applications, as well as providing advice and support to businesses through these challenging times.
We understand that this is a very challenging time for Tasmanian businesses. We continue to encourage businesses who need additional information on other support available, including information and access to free business advice through the Enterprise Centres Tasmania and digital coaching through the Digital Ready Program, to contact Business Tasmania on 1800 440 026 or via www.business.tas.gov.au.
The Auditor-General has today released his forward Annual Work Plan for the next financial year, which includes plans for a number of audits that will focus on examining the response and recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 (including an audit on the stimulus measures and targeted financial support payments and expenditures related to COVID-19), which will include the Small Business Hardship Grants program.
As we have committed, individual businesses can continue to contact Business Tasmania to request a review of their application if they believe they have been unfairly assessed or are seeking advice in relation to the outcome of the assessment.