Immediate small business support for bushfire-affected communities

Small businesses in bushfire-affected areas will be able to access new grants and loans under further assistance provided by the Federal Government.

Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the comprehensive package will make it easier for those who have suffered direct fire damage, or have been indirectly economically affected after the bushfires, to get back on their feet.

"Firstly, we'll deliver grants of up to $50,000 tax-free to businesses and organisations that have sustained damage as a result of the fires," Mr Joyce said.

"We will also roll out loans of up to half-a-million dollars, featuring no repayments for two years, for businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or a significant loss of revenue."

Like the Small Business Drought Loan (open for applications this week), the bushfire loan would be for up to 10 years, and used to restore or replace damaged assets and for working capital.

"This is in addition to business assistance measures already in place from the Commonwealth and others announced recently," Mr Joyce said.

These include grants of up to $75,000 for primary producers affected by bushfire; a further $15 million to fund 60 additional rural financial counsellors and support workers; and another $1 million relief top-up to each of the hardest hit local councils, including five here in the New England Electorate.

The Government will also deliver $3.5 million to establish the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line and fund 10 additional financial counsellors to advise about 100 small businesses a day.

The Support Line will be staffed by small business specialist financial counsellors who can provide information on assistance and support for small businesses in bushfire affected regions.

While the specialist Support Line is being established, businesses can visit www.business.gov.au or call 13 28 46.

This week's funding package responds to the needs expressed by small businesses on the ground and at the small business roundtable last week. There, chambers of commerce from fire-affected regions, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia met the Government to discuss the effects of this natural disaster on small business.

Assistance available to individuals:

  • The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP): A one-off, non-means tested payment of $1,000 for eligible adults and $800 for eligible children. Available to people in Armidale, Glen Innes Severn, Tenterfield and Walcha local government areas. To apply, call 180 2266.
  • Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA): Short-term income support payment to help individuals who can demonstrate the disaster directly affected their income. Available in Armidale, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla, and Walcha. To enquire, call 180 2266.
  • Natural Disaster Recovery Relief Grant: Payments up to $15,000 to help eligible, bushfire-affected primary producers, small businesses, and not-for-profit organisations with clean-up and immediate restoration costs. Available in Armidale, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Tenterfield, and Walcha. To enquire, call 1800 678 593.

For further information about disaster assistance available in your area, visit barnaby.joyce.com.au or call (02) 6761 3080.

This story Immediate small business support for bushfire-affected communities first appeared on The Armidale Express.