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Morrison proposes “more simple and streamlined” business support process

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested further federal government support will be available for businesses and individuals affected by future COVID-19 lockdowns and will come into effect from the second week of restrictions.

The news comes as Victoria heads into a state-wide five-day snap lockdown, coming into effect as of 11.59pm Thursday, to curb an outbreak of the virus.

Speaking to media, the PM announced he would propose the changes to the way support is dished out at the National Cabinet on Friday.

The proposal will include a new “more simple and streamlined” set of financial support measures available to all states and territories in the event of a lockdown of 14 days or more, he said.

The same package announced this week for businesses affected by the lockdown in Greater Sydney would be applied for any businesses in Australia.

It means those with a turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million, that can demonstrate a dip in turnover of 30% or more during the first fortnight of a lockdown, will be eligible for grant funding to cover 40% of their payroll costs — to a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $10,000.

In NSW, businesses must be able to demonstrate their staffing levels have remained the same as of July 13, when the package was announced. It is understood similar requirements will apply in this package.

Individuals will also be able to access emergency COVID-19 payments of $375 per week from the second week of lockdown, with payments for the first week also made retrospectively.

It appears the support would kick in automatically as soon as a lockdown extends to 14 days or more.

That’s something business owners and advocates have been calling for, as both snap lockdowns and extended lockdowns continue to affect SMEs.

The Council of Small Business Owners Australia (COSBOA) has called for a national standardised approach to lockdown rules, and some certainty around the support available to small businesses.

Elsewhere, business owners have suggested JobKeeper, or something like it, should be reinstated during snap lockdowns, enabling them to keep staff on board.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced another five-day snap lockdown for the whole of the state, in a bid to curb a growing outbreak, including three people who attended an AFL game at the MCG.

“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast,” Premier Dan Andrews said at a press conference.

“I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown.”

He also said support payments will be available to individuals and businesses that received it during the last lockdown.

This story first appeared on SmartCompany and has been republished with permission.

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