COVID business grant opens today, but is it enough?

Dominic Giannini 26 August 2021 14
Temporary closure sign

Temporary closure sign due to COVID-19 lockdown, Sammy’s @ the Foreshore restaurant. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Business support grants of up to $10,000 have now opened for Canberra operators who remain unable to trade or are otherwise impacted by the Territory’s lockdown.

Canberra businesses that have experienced a 30 per cent decline in turnover during the lockdown, and have an annual turnover greater than $75,000, can now apply for grants of up to $10,000 if they employ people and up to $4000 if they do not.

Around 10,000 Canberra businesses are expected to be eligible for the scheme, with 8500 businesses already expressing interest.

Money from the business support grants is expected to be available within 30 days of the application being lodged.

The Canberra Liberals welcomed the payment, but Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee said more immediate support for businesses and people navigating grant application processes was needed.

An email from Ms Lee and Shadow Business Minister Leanne Castley sent yesterday (25 August) to Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr and Business Minister Tara Cheyne said the wait time for support was too long for businesses suffering now.

“I implore you to accelerate the implementation of these supports and provide clear information as to how eligible businesses can access them,” the email said.

“Businesses, business owners and staff are hurting, and they need timely support.

“The business community [also] needs greater certainty as to what they can do to implement safety protocols to allow some businesses to re-commence trading (eg click n collect and contactless delivery operations for non-food businesses) and what the transition out of lockdown will look like.”

READ ALSO: Increased financial support flagged for business as lockdown to drag on

Speaking at yesterday’s COVID briefing, Mr Barr said that the government was deploying additional resources to process the number of business grant applications coming through but that the risk of fraud also needed to be balanced.

“The sort of behaviours that have been occurring across Australia is fraudsters scrapping ABN numbers and seeking to link that ABN to their own bank account.

“We need to put in place a range of measures to protect against fraud as the government’s intent is that the money goes to businesses in need and not to scammers.

“That is why we are requiring a [detailed] level of information from businesses and why we will be cross-checking, why we will be requiring businesses to keep information for two years, why we will be auditing, and why anyone who does the wrong thing will find themselves in significant trouble.”

But the package has been criticised as too little by struggling businesses.

General Manager of Thor’s Hammer, Thor Diesendorf, said his furniture business was losing $100,000 a week due to the lockdown and the one-off payment was not enough after the business was forced to send 20 staff members home a fortnight ago.

“Three weeks of lockdown on these terms will tip some good businesses over the edge,” he said.

“We have all been aware that an outbreak was likely to occur at some stage in the ACT, and I have been doing my best to put funds aside. However, they will not last long under the strict lockdown that we are currently under.

“There has been plenty of time for the ACT Government to prepare and I am surprised at the meagre help offered to businesses. We need help that is scaled in regard to the size of the business.”

The program is expected to deliver $75 million in support, split equally between the ACT and Commonwealth governments.

Businesses can apply until 7 October 2021 and will not have to submit individual applications for each week. Payments will be made in a lump sum.

Businesses can apply for the grant through the online ACT Government’s Business hub.

The Canberra Business Advice and Support Service is also available for any local business owners seeking free, specialised advice on their circumstances.

More information on other supports available for businesses can be found at

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14 Responses to COVID business grant opens today, but is it enough?
Jason Todd Jason Todd 6:28 pm 27 Aug 21

Unlike politicians, small businesses can’t work from home. If they don’t open, they don’t get paid.

Anthony Chase Anthony Chase 9:19 pm 26 Aug 21

An anaemic effort.

Steven Joseph Johnson Steven Joseph Johnson 8:39 pm 26 Aug 21

I've been allowed to be open for the two weeks.

Mechanical shop. Small local independent.

I can confirm we have gone from averaging 2k a day.. to averaging 0...

While we are allowed to open... nobody has the money to fix thier vehicles currently because most people are not working.

The support given is far from enough. And far from good enough.

We have overheads. Bills. Rent. And all kinds of things to pay.. as well as still try to do the right thing by our employees.

The business grants scheme now takes a month to approve. By that time many small businesses may have had to close down.

They have had a year to prepare for this. Hell they should have had some kind of contingency plan in place should something like this happen in the world...

But no.. let's figure it out two weeks into lockdown. Then make it insanely difficult to do in the hopes they will give up and we don't have to pay anyone any money...

Who wants to bet they will also send us a bill in our tax that we have to pay the support package back? With interest.

Ken Chau Ken Chau 6:10 pm 26 Aug 21

Please let us open for contactless delivery at least - so we can start get back on our feet!

Penelope Rose Penelope Rose 5:21 pm 26 Aug 21

ACT Government has had so many months, in fact a whole year to get that business grants scheme sorted and should have just had to let business owners aware the program was available, but no, they wait until a fortnight into an inevitable lockdown to sort out a business grants scheme that now takes up to 30 days to approve. What an absolute joke. 🤯

Anthony Allardyce Anthony Allardyce 3:38 pm 26 Aug 21

What about businesses who have not recovered from the first wave of COVID and are struggling to stay a dollar? These new “assistance” packages are for those businesses who can show a 30% drop in business from the weeks before lockdown. What about those businesses who have not had sufficient recovery to be able to show a 30% drop in business who have had little or no support from the ACT government?

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 4:07 pm 26 Aug 21

    Anthony get in touch with them to explain your specific situation.

Judy Elferkh Judy Elferkh 3:26 pm 26 Aug 21

I spoke with Services Australia twice. I'm a Pty Ltd with no employees. Meet all the criteria for the $4000. I can only apply for one or the other. Not both. You need to decide what is best for your circumstances.

    Penelope Rose Penelope Rose 5:23 pm 26 Aug 21

    You didn't seriously think they would let you dip into both schemes, of course its one or the other. 🤦‍♀️

    Judy Elferkh Judy Elferkh 6:00 pm 26 Aug 21

    Penelope Rose I had no intentions of applying for both but I was trying to work out what was best for me with the right people. I chose to answer the question asked by someone else with the information given to me. Should I started that stament with ouch!!!!!.🙂

Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 3:22 pm 26 Aug 21

Imagine being the Government and knowing that if we got a case that you'd send us all into lockdown. But then, telling everyone it takes a long time to stand a program like this up. This should have already been in place and just hit the go button as the lockdown started. Incompetent.

Renee Thompson Renee Thompson 3:09 pm 26 Aug 21

Not to mention for some sadly to late but can take upto 30 days to process from application.

In saying that can business owners apply for disaster payment Along with the small business grant?

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