The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on jobs, businesses, and industries that are critical to Canberra’s economy including the tourism, arts and events sectors.

The 2021-22 ACT Budget aims to make a huge investment in job creation and encourage investment with a purpose of driving a stronger economic recovery.

The newly announced $41 million Key Industries Package builds on a range of business support programs already in place and is part of the ACT’s aspirations to increase Canberra’s labour market to 250,000 jobs by 2025.

Tourism And Events Industries To Receive More Support

An additional funding of $20 million, on top of the emergency support that has already been distributed to businesses, will help support the tourism and events sectors, to position Canberra as a must-visit destination once domestic and international travel resumes.

The ACT Government also plans to include more support for the cities major events calendar, funding to attract new events, the revitalisation of Canberra’s conference and business events sector, and funding to attract low-cost airlines and more direct flights to Canberra, including future international routes.

Supporting Canberra’s Arts Sector

The ACT Government has announced the new “Statement of Ambition for the Arts” which aims to make Canberra Australia’s new Arts Capital. 

As a first step to accomplish this ambition more than $13 million in additional funding through the 2021-22 ACT Budget will offer support to local artists, arts organisations and cultural facilities.

Funding for the project will consist of upgrades to arts facilities including the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, Belconnen Arts Centre and Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres.

Planning for the expansion and redevelopment of the Canberra Theatre Centre will also be supported, as well as funding for the expansion and activation of Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG).

Local creatives will also be supported through HOMEFRONT 3, which has already supported many of Canberra’s local artists over the past 18 months during the covid-19 pandemic.

Boosting Jobs Through Business Innovation and Investment

The ACT Government also plans to invest an additional $8 million to continue to support business recovery with a goal to attract more investment and create more jobs as the ACT economy rebounds from the region’s most recent lockdown.

Initiatives to support local business innovation and development include reinvigorating international trade and engagement with key markets, funding to help entrepreneurs develop and grow their innovative ideas, and support for the development of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

The ACT Government also hopes to continue to create job opportunities via the Future Jobs Fund”, including the continued development of the Canberra Cyber Hub, support for the Academy of Interactive Entertainment’s sound stage development and a workforce strategy to attract workers to the ACT’s growing industries.

The ACT Government also plans to extend the application fee waiver for obtaining and amending commercial liquor permits from 30 September 2021 to 31 March 2022 to support the hospitality industry through the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The payroll exemption for new apprentices or trainees will also be extended until the 30th June 2022.

Thousands of ACT Businesses Are Yet To Receive Business Support Grants During Lockdown

The ACT has been in lockdown for almost two months, however under 4000 outstanding support grants are yet to be processed for struggling businesses, with the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr largely blaming it on poorly submitted paperwork.

However, ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja believes that the ACT government is responsible for the delay, and businesses fighting to survive are being let down by the ACT Government.

“Canberrans deserve better. I’m hearing from desperate businesses who have heard nothing but crickets from the ACT government, despite applying weeks ago now. This needs to be fixed urgently” said ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja.

The jointly funded Commonwealth-ACT support package which aims to finance Canberra based businesses has now been operating for over a month, with a team of around 100 people assigned to process more than 8600 applications.

Businesses are able to apply for grants of up to $30,000, depending on their turnover figures.

“So, we’ll cross over 4000 payments being approved today – that’s the advice I have – and the value of approved payments will cross over $60 million,” said ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Data released on Friday 24th September illustrated that 4132 payments have been approved and $66 million has been paid to Canberra business. According to Andrew Barr less than 1 percent (136) of the applications were declined simply because they were not eligible.

However, 3987 support grant applications are outstanding, with 2717 currently being assessed and 1270 cases of businesses needing to send more information to the assessors.

The number of applications needing more information has halved since the scheme started, a shift Mr Barr called “significant progress”.

Andrew Barr says that businesses need to make sure they are doing a better job at filling out their application forms so that the government can process the payments quicker.

“We need complete applications. There’s about 400 that were launched on the first day and that haven’t yet been paid, and they are mostly because we don’t have the information that’s required to make the payment. They been advised repeatedly by email and often by phone call,” said ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Andrew Barr said some of the common reasons for the slow progress of the payments include grants team emails getting caught in spam filters, incorrect bank details and incorrect ABNs.

The team at C&D Restructure and Taxation Advisory are here to help. As part of the Vault Group we can offer the full suite of financial products and advice to help you navigate the business landscape. Schedule a meeting here via Calendly or give us a call on 1300 1 VAULT (1300 182 858)

Post Author: Craig Dangar

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