Melburnians are now a week into lockdown 2.0 and households and businesses are doing it tough as they re-negotiate reduced work and limited movement. However our gut feel is that we could be heading into stage 4 lockdowns (we hope not), where we cannot leave our suburbs.  So it’s important to recognise the support that is out there for small businesses and ensure you are doing everything you can to stay afloat.
 
While JobKeeper and JobSeeker have been around for a few months now, as well as a range of stimulus measures from the federal and state governments, the latest lockdown has brought a new measure that many affected businesses should be applying for.
 
The $5000 grant from the Victorian government applies to businesses in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire who are accessing the JobKeeper scheme, are employing people registered with WorkSafe as of June 30, have payroll of less than $3 million for the last financial year, and are assigned to a state or federal regulator.
 
If your business is eligible it is important you make an application for this grant and get the extra assistance for your businesses at this difficult time. Unfortunately, the grant does not apply to sole traders, which will no doubt hurt a lot of people.
 
This week I spoke to the president of the Council of Small Business Organisations, Peter Strong, who said there would be some tough decisions coming for business owners in ten weeks’ time when the JobKeeper program finishes up.
 
There is already talk of a second version of JobKeeper from October, likely to be means tested and targeted at businesses and industries that need it the most, but Peter Strong said business owners needed to think carefully before signing up to the second program.
 
“Under JobKeeper the government is paying the wages, which is great,” he said.
 
“But the issue is where the employee is accruing entitlements such as annual leave, and six months of work is two weeks of pay, so it adds up in your workforce and businesses have to consider if they can afford to do that.
 
“If you’re in a business we want you to protect your assets, and it might mean closing down when JobKeeper runs out and re-opening when things are a bit better to protect the business.”
 
It’s a difficult consideration, but it’s a tough call that some businesses will have to look at if they don’t think they can survive without the JobKeeper payments.