More cash for lockdown hit traders in Vic

·2-min read

Victorian businesses and workers will be eligible for government support if they have lost work or income during the latest virus lockdown.

The state and federal governments have agreed to share the cost of the scheme, which will provide weekly payments for those who have lost work, with no liquid assets test.

Victorians who lose 20 or more hours of work during the lockdown will be eligible for $600, while people who lose 8-20 hours will get $375.

After disagreements over how federal support offered to Victoria compares with that in NSW, the Premier Daniel Andrews said he reached agreement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the assistance plan last night.

"The length of the lockdown doesn't matter, if you've lost those hours, you've lost those wages and you should be supported," Mr Andrews told the media on Friday.

The Commonwealth will fund the scheme for people who live in federal-government declared hotspots, such as Melbourne, while the Victorian government will pick up the tab for the rest of the state.

At the same time, up to 90,000 businesses and sole traders that received support during the fourth lockdown last month will be automatically eligible for payments of $2000 or $3000, as part of a $200 million state-funded scheme.

The money is targeted at the retail, hospitality and tourism industries.

Amid criticism from traders that have missed out on funding, the state government said it is working with 22,000 businesses that have applied for assistance but not received any so far.

The Victorian Government said it has provided more than $6 billion in business support since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, employer association Ai Group said calls for other states to emulate Victoria's "draconian response" to outbreaks show a lack of understanding of how the economy functions.

Ai Chief Executive Innes Willox said lockdowns in Greater Sydney were costing about a billion dollars a week, with similar estimates for Victoria.

"While not all of this spending is totally lost forever, that is no comfort if your income or cash flow falls to zero for an extended period," he said on Friday.

Mr Willox welcomed government arrangements for business support but said they needed to be rolled out quickly.

Victorian opposition leader Michael O'Brien said the government was being stingier towards small business in this lockdown compared to the previous one.

"In lockdown four the government promised packages of $3500 for licensed venues, $2500 for non licensed venues. This time around it's $3000 and $2000," he said.

"Every extra lockdown hurts these small businesses more."

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