Canberra Business Week: Rush to Apply for Grants, Budget Measures Welcomed, But Problems Persist

Canberra downtown

Many businesses are scheduled to open on October 15, but retail will have to wait until October 29. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

As the Territory prepares for business resumption, with fingers crossed for a smooth transition and no further roadblocks, financial advisers have reported a flood of last-minute businesses and sole traders applying for the ACT Business Support Grant. before the October 7 deadline.

RSM Australia Senior Advisor Young Han said there has been a business combination that was quick to claim, but individual merchants, who had been receiving COVID Disaster Payment and were looking to change, made up the majority of requests. last minute.

“I guess it’s human nature to wait until the last minute, but we were certainly busy last week,” Ms. Han said.

He added that they are beginning to see some financial difficulties among business owners that may require more help from the ACT Government.


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Emergency measures were put in place to assist commercial tenants and landlords affected by COVID-19. This included a rate credit of 50 percent of the total rent reduction granted to eligible tenants, capped at $ 10,000 or two-quarters of the rates.

Credits are based on rent reductions between August 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 and owners must reduce the rent due by at least four weeks in this period.

But business owners applying for or receiving assistance through the Small Business Hardship Program are not eligible for a business rate credit, and neither are owners whose primary income is indirectly generated, that is, non-business income such as rent, stocks. and dividends.

Young Han

RSM Australia Senior Advisor Young Han. Photo: RSM Australia.

“These landlords are not eligible for any business support grant and the $ 10,000 is not enough to cover the rent reductions. To make this more complicated, if your tenant has received any government support grant, then the tenant must include any grant income in their reported income. If this has meant that the tenant’s income reduction is above the threshold, some landlords are not even eligible for the rate credit, even when their tenant is losing income, ”Ms. Han said.

“We are starting to see more and more owners in this position and in real difficulty.”

As the Territory will begin to emerge from the lockdown on October 15, many businesses will resume operations to some extent, with the exception of retail businesses that will remain at the ‘click and collect’ level until the next easing level on October 29. October.


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Last week’s 2021-22 budget revealed some important items, including a $ 5 billion five-year infrastructure program, $ 500 million to boost basic health services in the ACT health system, and $ 90 million to the ongoing COVID response.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government was anticipating a consumer-led recovery.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand,” he observed.

Barr said the budget will depend on the ACT lockdown being lifted as scheduled.


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Canberra Business Chamber welcomed the increased focus of the budget on supporting small businesses, but says more is still needed for this sector.

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said new funding to support tourism, events and the arts is much needed and welcomed, but other businesses in a Several sectors will need additional financial help to survive as the economy slowly reopens for the remainder of 2021.

Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber

Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt welcomed the focus on budgeting for small businesses. Photo: Canberra Chamber of Commerce.

“There are 30,000 private companies in the ACT. The vast majority are small companies, it is these companies, not the public sector, that now provide more than 60 percent of the Territory’s jobs, ”said Mr. Catt.

“Many were affected by COVID-19 in 2020, and then even more in 2021, and we have seen job losses and business closures. Now is the time to do everything you can to protect and then create jobs in the private sector. Only in this way will we drive the economic diversity, growth and local champions necessary for a sustainable economy ”.

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