The City of Ballarat has unveiled a $1 million business and community support package to help get the city through its recovery from recent lockdowns.
Under the plan, businesses that can show a 30 per cent reduction in revenue would receive a one-off grant of $500 while community and volunteer groups and sporting clubs that showed the same would receive $250.
The plan also includes a series of cost savings for businesses and community groups, including waiving interest on outstanding rates and fees for food act registration, public health and wellbeing, outdoor dining permits and a-frame signage permits.
Council would also continue its financial hardship policy and re-establish its business contact centre to assist local business to access available federal, state and local funding programs and facilitate the other assistance available.
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The goal of the funding package is to supplement existing state and federal programs while also providing support to some small businesses and community groups not eligible for those programs.
A report recommending the approval of the support package will be put before councillors at the August 25 council meeting.
City of Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney said back-to-back lockdowns were hard on Ballarat businesses.
"We found that basically the lockdown number five was particularly hard for a lot of businesses. They were telling us that their financial reserves had started to drain, that they were actually at a period where they were giving some genuine thoughts to what they can actually do going forward," he said.
"Normally, we've found especially in the hospitality sector, it's taken about six weeks to recover after a lockdown. They didn't even get that.
"Those businesses haven't had the chance to have a recovery yet because they depend in many cases on having Melbourne people come here and dine out, visit various shows in town as well and they haven't been able to really fully recover as they have after past lockdowns."
Chief executive Evan King said the $1 million was created in cost savings council experienced in the last financial year due to not running events.
"As we've been preparing our year-end accounts, council came to me and said we really want to look at what we can do for for business and the community," he said.
"One of the great ways of using some of those savings that were generated last year was put it back into the community and particularly in those areas that have been most impacted and may not have been able to access grants and support that is out there at the moment."
Mr King said the grants were not a one-stop solution, but another support measure in addition to state and federal funding.
"We have about 9000 registered businesses in Ballarat and when we look through the makeup of those 9000 businesses, we think there's probably about 1750 businesses that would probably be in those areas that have been impacted, and many of them are home-based businesses that may not be able to to access other forms of relief that that are out there," he said.
"A lot of small businesses aren't registered for GST, they don't have the $75,000 worth of turnover that you need to register for the GST so may not be able to access those sorts of grants.
"We believe there are probably about 500 community, volunteer and sporting groups that would be able to access that grant system."
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