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Red tape cut, access easier for bushfire affected small businesses

11 March 2020

Joint media release with the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud MP, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope

The Morrison Government has today announced a new $10,000 grant and simplified access to existing loans and other services for small businesses impacted by recent bushfires.

Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Government was listening to feedback from fire-affected communities.

“We are listening and acting to help fire-affected communities while supporting states to roll out recovery programs quicker than they have been,” he said. 

Minister for Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash said small businesses are the backbone of regional economies, and it is critical we work to address their concerns.

“It is also vital that the recovery is led locally through direct support for the small business community,” Minister Cash said.

The newly launched Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package will ensure small businesses devastated by the recent bushfires receive immediate support tailored to their individual circumstances.

The package announced today offers new initiatives to help local economies recover faster and simplifies access to current assistance programs by cutting red tape. It includes:

  • a new $10,000 grant to assist significantly impacted small businesses in selected Local Government Areas (LGAs) get back on their feet and maintain their businesses. To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires;
  • we are working with the States to ensure greater access to concessional loans with fewer documents and fewer security requirements; and
  • more experienced and trusted business advisers available on the ground working directly with small business owners to help them navigate the challenging road to recovery.

Minister Littleproud said the Morrison Government established the National Bushfire Recovery Agency to lead the recovery.

“We are embedding more staff from the Agency in recovery hubs to provide help to people to access grants, loans, and other services – they can assist small business owners to navigate systems, fill in forms, and get the support they need,” he said.

The updated package is being funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Minister Cash said today’s announcement builds on a comprehensive suite of existing support measures that encourage economic growth in impacted regions.

“These existing measures were based on feedback we received from affected small businesses and include amending income tax laws to make all relief and recovery payments by Australian governments in relation to the 2019-20 bushfires tax free,” she said.

“The further changes announced today will enable small business communities to continue to recover and move forward.”

Minister Cash said the Government is simplifying processes and cutting red tape.

“We want to make it easier for those who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been economically impacted following the bushfires, to get back on their feet.”

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro welcomed the change to application processes and said this will mean small businesses can gain quicker and easier access to emergency funds.

“We need money in these people’s bank accounts fast and there’s no time to waste,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Small businesses are the heart and soul of regional towns and when the local economy hurts, the whole town hurts, so today’s announcement is very welcomed news for all those business owners who can now begin their recovery.”

NSW Minister for Small Business Damien Tudehope said we need to support bushfire-affected small businesses in every way we can.

“Small businesses are crucial to every regional town’s economy, livelihood and community spirit, and the expansion of the small business funding package will mean so much to the business owners who have suffered through these devastating bushfires.”

Further details are available on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/recovery-assistance/small-business

Summary of updates to the bushfire recovery package for small business

$10,000 grants for maintenance costs
Eligible small businesses in LGAs selected by the States can apply for an additional grant of $10,000 to assist with the costs of maintaining their businesses. This may include – but is not limited to – accessing financial advice, covering salaries, wages, utilities, and fuel. Businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires.
Businesses affected directly and indirectly can apply.
$18.2 million for greater access to grants and loans
Existing eligibility requirements for concessional loans up to $500,000 have been relaxed and simplified. This includes lowering the threshold for documentation when applying for a loan.
The requirement for security to be provided for loans up to $50,000 has been removed.
$12.8 million for business advisory services
An additional 21 business experts are being deployed to recovery hubs. Small businesses can receive tailored advice, including information about accessing existing forms of assistance.
More face-to-face support for affected communities
Over the coming weeks, up to 20 additional NBRA staff will join existing Recovery Support Teams deployed to bushfire affected areas to provide guidance on administrative processes and application requirements for grants and loans. The teams have been operating since February, and aim to connect people and businesses to the government and non-government support programs most relevant to their circumstances.
Five Liaison Officers are currently embedded in State Recovery Centres to ensure the Commonwealth and State/Territory Governments are working hand in glove. An additional three Liaison Officers will be deployed to the Orbost (Vic), Bega (NSW), and Adelaide Hills (SA) regions.
Funding is across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years.

Media contacts:

Minister Littleproud’s office 02 6277 7190

Minister Cash's office 02 6277 7610

NSW Deputy Premier Barilaro's office 02 8574 5150

NSW Minister Tudehope's office 02 8574 6450