The Committee for Mornington Peninsula is urging the Federal and Victorian governments to provide additional financial support for communities under lockdown restrictions, including those on the Mornington Peninsula. Yesterday’s announcement of a reinstated border between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria means that, from today, the Mornington Peninsula will once again be subjected to ongoing lockdown restrictions despite having no active cases and our last listed exposure site being 15 days old.
We may not know how long the current restrictions will place Mornington Peninsula employers and employees under financial stress, but we do know that existing government supports are not adequate. At a time when many local businesses are still recovering from the economic effects of the circuit-breaker lockdown in June and lockdown five in July, the announcement of lockdown six came as a devastating blow to many. This time, there is comparatively little support on offer for businesses affected by lockdown restrictions in Victoria for a variety of reasons:
• Previously available Federal and Victorian government programs have now closed, including the JobKeeper program and Boosting Cashflow Payments, which were a lifeline to businesses under lockdown restrictions;
• Many businesses affected by previous Victorian lockdowns were not eligible for the Business Costs Assistance Program and Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund payments during previous rounds, meaning they are not currently eligible for those repeat payments or will need to reapply now and incur a waiting period; and,
• Six days into the current seven-day lockdown, the Victorian Government has still not announced an opening date for the Small Business COVID Hardship Fund to support those businesses that were ineligible for BCAP or LHVF payments, which will enable affected businesses to apply for an $8000 payment.
The Mornington Peninsula is currently able to access the following pandemic support:
• The COVID-19 Disaster Payment of $450 for workers losing eight to 20 hours or $750 for workers losing more than 20 hours due to the lockdown;
• Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment of $1500 for each 14-day period a person must self-isolate, quarantine or care for a person who has COVID-19;
• Commercial tenants are eligible for the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme;
• Some licensed venues are eligible to receive the LHVF payment of either $5000, $10,000 or $20,000, depending on their capacity limits; and,
• Some small to medium businesses affected by lockdowns are eligible to receive the $2800 BCAP payment – a reduction on the Round 2 $7000 BCAP payment.
To ascertain local businesses’ fiscal circumstances and how Federal and Victorian government supports were assisting them, the CfMP undertook a survey of 36 Mornington Peninsula businesses and not-for-profit employers during the June circuit-breaker lockdown. The results were as follows:
• Most respondents stood down one to five staff members
• Half of the respondents lost more than $40,000 of revenue
Government Support Eligibility
• Half of the respondents did not think they were eligible for any circuit breaker business support package payments from the Victorian Government
• Most Mornington Peninsula employers surveyed did not think they or their employees would be eligible to receive the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment
Government Support Adequacy
• Most respondents did not think that support on offer from the Victorian Government would be adequate to support them during the 14-day circuit-breaker lockdown
• Most respondents did not think the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment would be adequate to support them or their employees during the 14-day circuit-breaker lockdown
When asked how they would better target government support for their business during lockdowns, surveyed respondents most-commonly nominated the following support measures as being most-useful to them:
• Wage subsidy
• Cashflow boost
• Broadened eligibility criteria for government grants
Considering that very similar economic support measures are currently on offer for Victorians during lockdown six as were on offer during the circuit-breaker lockdown in June, it is clear that current supports are falling well short of current needs. It has become increasingly apparent during this year of repeated lockdowns in Victoria that Mornington Peninsula businesses are struggling to make ends meet and are facing the same lockdown-induced economic pressures they did in 2020 without the same financial support.
The Committee for Mornington Peninsula calls on the Federal and Victorian governments to provide the same level of support for employers and employees affected by public health directives that they provided in 2020 when our community was faced with the same economic pressures.
COMMITTEE FOR MORNINGTON PENINSULA