An estimated 192,000 small businesses and sole traders operating in the regions most severely affected by bushfires will be able to avail of grants, loans and some tax assistance to help them get back on their feet.
The Federal Government announced the support package on Monday, following a roundtable last week, with 70 attendees including the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Getting small business back on their feet is critical,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said announcing the measures on Monday.
“This comprehensive package will make it easier for those who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been indirectly economically impacted following the bushfires, to get back back on their feet.”
Immediate tax-free cash grants of up to $50,000 will be available to eligible small businesses that sustained damage from the fires, including lost stock as a result of power outages.
Concessional loans of up to $500,000 are available to small businesses that have suffered either significant asset or revenue loss.
The loans can be repaid over up to 10 years with no repayments due for the first two years and no interest accruing over that two year period.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said a further $3.5 million will be spent on establishing a Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line, which will provide basic information to small businesses to aid recovery.
“We will continue to push for a Government grant that enables small businesses to go to their trusted advisor for a customised strategy,” Carnell said.
“In the meantime, fast-tracked infrastructure and a commitment to ‘build back better’ is absolutely vital.”
Carnell said all levels of government should be procuring from local businesses wherever possible throughout the re-build.