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Small Business – Business Impact Support program

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 9 June 2022

Tags: Small Business, COVID-19

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. Minister, how many businesses have applied for grants under the Business Impact Support program since its inception; how many were approved; and how many were denied that support? Of the number of businesses approved to receive grants, what was breakdown across the tiers from 1 to 5, which relate to turnover?

Ms OGILVIE - We ran through some of this yesterday

Ms O'CONNOR - We don't have an upper House member.

Ms OGILVIE - There is some additional information coming. Mr Valentine asked the same question, so you will be apprised of some additional information. As you are aware, there were rounds from 1 to 4 and the tiers. The four funding rounds had different scopes and different rules around application. I will run through those for you.

Business annual turnover round 1 - the impacted business with an annual turnover of $25 000 to $49 000: the base grant funding available was $1000.

Rounds 2, 3 and 4 - the impacted business with an annual turnover of $25 000 to $49 0000: the base grant funding available was $1000, but with the addition of perishable goods payment, if applicable, of $1000.

I'm happy to run through all of this, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - The question is related to the number of businesses that had applied for and been approved for grants.

Ms OGILVIE - The secretary might have that number.

Mr EVANS - I can run through via round, if you like. With regard to Round 1 grants - Tier 1: number approved was 180; Tier 2: $2000 grants, 689; Tier 3 grants: 70; Tier 4 grants: 12. That is a total of 951 grants. On top of that, 80 businesses received support for the loss of perishable goods.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Evans, I think you are about to run out of time with our new, tough on time Chair. If the minister agrees, you could table that information that relates to the grant rounds and the numbers.

Mr EVANS - Absolutely.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, earlier we were talking about the Business Impact Support Program and we have some questions on notice relating to the grants. I'm sure you're aware of this, but we've been made aware of a number of small businesses that didn't qualify for this support because they came in under the $25 000 threshold for support in the tier one category. Some small businesses are adamant that they fell short of this turnover as a direct result of COVID-19. That's how badly their businesses were impacted. It's like a double hit. What's your response to this, minister, and what support, if any, has been made available, or will be made available, for businesses where annual turnover is less than $25 000?

Ms OGILVIE - I'll ask the secretary to start. We do have quite a lot of information on the grant programs, so I'll ask the secretary to start and then I'll pick it up.

Ms O'CONNOR - This is a particular cohort of businesses.

Ms OGILVIE - I understand.

Mr EVANS - I might make a comment and see whether Mark wants to add. While you need to have clear guidelines to operate the scheme under, the minister has given myself as secretary and the deputy secretary the discretion where there are exceptional circumstances to provide support outside of those guidelines. There have been instances where people with the sorts of circumstances that you've described, which wouldn't fall within the normal bounds, we've exercised some discretion in those cases.

Mr BOWLES - To add to what the secretary said, when the thresholds are designed for the hardship programs, such as this, one of the considerations is the need to target businesses for whom the business owner or operator it is the primary source of income. That's the rationale for having a minimum threshold that doesn't go all the way to zero.

Originally there was a threshold of $50 000. Generally $50 000 for most of our small business programs is the minimum threshold. Based on feedback that we had at round one, it was lowered to $25 000 to capture many of the stall holders, for example, at markets and micro businesses. That was lower than many of our programs.

I note too that in round one, for example, they were required to demonstrate a minimum 30 per cent reduction in turnover from the reference period, which was between 15 December 2021 and 14 January 2022 compared to the same period in the previous year. The reference period was in a more normal environment, in terms of turnover. Furthermore, for newly established businesses we've provided the option of having a comparable reference period of 15 November to 14 December 2021, so some startups could apply as well.