This post looks at what local governments in Australia have been doing to help local businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Part of a series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19
A number of local councils have organised their COVID-19 responses into discrete programs or service packages. These aim to provide a framework for organising and presenting a comprehensive framework of support.
- Melbourne Local Economic Package: The City of Melbourne (Vic) announced a local economic package to support city businesses affected by COVID-19 based on a range of support for businesses. The package includes grants to develop online and e-services, one-on-one advice and support through our expanded COVID-19 Business Concierge Hotline, halving rent for eligible tenants in Council-owned buildings for three months, suspending fees for street trading permits for three months, reduced registration fee for food businesses, a new Rates Financial Hardship Policy, a new General Financial Hardship Policy, and a virtual business support summit.
- The South East Queensland Council of Mayors’ have launched an Online Portal for Information with member councils to present one portal capturing the available COVID-19 commitments of support and relief for businesses and residents of South East Queensland. The portal allows users to select their relevant council area and view a concise list of the relief and stimulus packages available from each member council.
- The City of Stirling (WA) is developing an Economic Stimulus and Community Recovery Packageto assist households, businesses, community organisations and employees as part of the City’s broader COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan. This is likely to include a freezing commercial rates and all municipal service fees and charges through 2020/21, preparation of shovel-ready capital projects and an accelerated asset maintenance works program supplemented by local business friendly procurement practices to boost the economy, and the fast-tracking of 32 specific actions within the City’s Small Business Friendly Approvals Project Action Plan.
- Alexandrina Council Business Support Package: The Alexandrina Council (SA) Business Support Package outlines a range of initiatives utilising the legislative and administrative powers Council has to support business in times of crisis. It also outlines a series of new programs and services to leverage other external support available for business to ensure the region gets its ‘fair share’ of support and is prepared for the much-anticipated re-building phase. The package covers immediate relief initiatives for the short term (i.e., now to June 2020), activities focused on survival and recovery in the medium term (anticipated for June 2020 to December 2020) and more strategic project progression in the longer term (anticipated for 2021 onwards) to position businesses for growth and resilience.
- The City of Vincent (WA) COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Strategy is a broad strategy covering all issues affect council. It also outlines a number of measures to support small business including a buy local campaign, the launch of online planning applications for lodgement and tracking, and waiving fees for one-on-one personal training permits in order to assist small businesses and promote health and wellbeing during this time.
- The City of Newcastle (NSW) has developed a Community and Economic Resilience Packagedesigned to help locals through the unprecedented effects of COVID-19. The package will initially see $5.5 million invested and includes interest free payment plans for rates, rent reductions on council-owned buildings, free online training packages, and community grants programs to support vulnerable and emerging at-risk community members. A further, Phase Two “Road to Recovery” program focusing on infrastructure, advocacy, sustainability programs, events and tourism, will be announced in June and implemented from July 2020 to June 2021.
- The City of Brimbank (Vic) Covid-19 Response and Recovery–Business Support and Assistance Package is structured in two stages. Stage 1 is immediate and addresses critical response and recovery initiatives. Stage 2 would follow and be targeted at recovery initiatives.
- The Rotorua Lakes Council (New Zealand) has launched the Rotorua Economic Recovery Plan, ‘Build Back Better’. The plan recognises the role the local business sector groups will play in developing initiatives to boost the local economy. It is based on six key strategies: (1) Build on Rotorua’s unique strengths as outlined in the 2017 refresh of the 2030 vision The Rotorua Way; (2) Create a confident business environment that encourages investment and the emergence of new sectors; (3) Work with business leaders to craft innovative strategies for impacted sectors; (4) Position Rotorua as leading the resurgence of tourism and wood processing; (5) Leverage Central and Local Government investment to drive employment in both the short and longer-term; and (6) Implement locality plans (identified in the district Spatial Plan and part of the housing plan) to connect our communities and transform our city.
Other articles is this series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19
For other articles is this series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19 see:
- Issues that shape a local COVID-19 response
- Engaging local business in COVID-19
- Support for Local Business Restructuring
- The Local Economic Stimulus