COVID-19 coronavirus: Support for business

Information on financial relief measures for business, including how to apply.

Last updated: 3 August 2020 at 7.30am

Small businesses need your business to keep them going during this difficult time. What can I do

On this page you will find information on:

Tourism

New initiative unveiled to help attract visitors to Hillarys Boat Harbour

A new walking trails initiative has been unveiled, as Western Australians are being urged to visit WA's iconic Hillarys Boat Harbour.

The new walking trails will showcase three separate walks at the popular tourist destination, highlighting key attractions along the way.

The trails are designed to encourage families to visit these iconic destinations and support small businesses who have been doing it tough due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A $117 million maintenance contract for Western Australian maritime facilities has also been awarded.

Up to 117 local jobs, including 12 apprentices, will be supported over the life of the 6 year project for Western Australian maritime facilities.

For more information see the new walking trails media statement.

Regional tourism recovery boosted 

The WA Government is supporting the regional tourism industry with $1 million in funding for 77 regional events. 

Events awarded funding for the first time through this scheme include Bunbury Fringe 2021 in the South West, Get Hooked Fishing Festival in the Wheatbelt, and the South Festival in the Pilbara.   

Seven events were awarded funding under the Regional Aboriginal Events Scheme to showcase Aboriginal activities and experiences, and encourage Aboriginal leadership and participation. 

A full list of events that will receive funding is available on the Tourism WA website.  

For more information see the Regional tourism recovery boosted with events support media statement

$14.4 million package to support tourism industry and jobs

The WA Government has launched a multimillion dollar recovery package to support small tourism operators around the State to adapt and refocus their businesses in the COVID-19 landscape. 

The $14.4 million initiative includes two funding programs.  

The $10.4 million Tourism Recovery Fund provides one-off cash grants of $6500 to up to 1600 individual small businesses around the State. Eligible businesses must be:   

  • members of a Regional Tourism Organisation; or  
  • members of the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council; or  
  • accredited with the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program, STAR Rating Australian Program, Eco Certification Program or Caravan/Holiday Park Accreditation Program.   

The remaining $4 million has been put towards a Tourism Business Survival Grants package, which provides grants of $25,000 to $100,000 for tourism operators dealing with exceptionally difficult circumstances.   

Any Western Australian tourism business which is suffering from the impacts of COVID-19 or is ineligible for the Tourism Recovery Fund is encouraged to apply for the Tourism Business Survival Grants. 

More information on these Tourism Business Survival Grants packages, including how businesses can apply, will be released shortly. 

To apply or learn more, visit the WA Tourism Recovery Program page.

Financial relief  

Small business support services 

The Small Business Development Corporation has created a COVID-19 assistance centre to provide dedicated, timely guidance on available support options, including:  

  • information on available stimulus packages and eligibility requirements  
  • advice on preparing businesses to manage impacts  
  • other resources. 

To access the service call 133 140 (8.30am to 4.30pm weekdays) or email info@smallbusiness.wa.gov.au. For more information visit the Small Business Development Corporation website or follow its blog. 

Financial support for small and medium businesses 

The WA Government is investing $114 million to support small and medium businesses: 

  • a one-off $2500 credit on electricity bills for small businesses 
  • no utility disconnections or charging of interest on deferred electricity payments 
  • waiving licence fees for businesses in industries such as hospitality, tourism, retail and building trades 
  • waiving liquor licence renewal fees for 2020, with refunds provided to businesses that have already paid 
  • increasing the payroll tax exemption threshold to $1 million from 1 July 2020 
  • providing a one-off grant of $17,500 to businesses with a reconciled 2018-19 Australia-wide payroll of between $1 million and $4 million 
  • waiving payroll tax for 4 months from 1 March to 30 June 2020, for businesses with an Australia-wide payroll of less than $7.5 million 
  • waiving rent for small businesses in WA Government-owned buildings until 30 September 2020, including convenience stores in train stations, cafés in government buildings, restaurants in tourism precincts, such as Elizabeth Quay and Yagan Square and eligible small businesses leasing land from the WA Government, such as caravan park and eco-tourism operators  
  • alternative tax payment arrangements 
  • waiving late payment penalties for payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax. 

For more information see the support for small businesses in response to COVID-19 fact sheet.

WA small businesses to receive $17,500 grant

From 20 July, thousands of Western Australian small to medium-sized businesses will begin receiving a one-off grant of $17,500 from the WA Government to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will be eligible for the grant, which will be sent automatically to all qualifying businesses.

Eligibility for employers not registered for payroll tax in 2018-19 will be determined on their reconciled 2019-20 Australian taxable wages, with grants paid later in 2020. 

It is expected 7,400 Western Australian businesses will benefit from the grant.

For more information see the WA small businesses to receive $17,500 grant to assist during COVID-19 media statement.

Commercial tenants and landlords

The WA Government has introduced a new code of conduct to help commercial tenants and landlords reach agreements about rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It provides guidelines to assist with negotiating rent relief agreements during COVID-19 to ensure businesses can survive, and requires landlords to:

  • offer relief at least proportionate to the reduction in turnover that the business has suffered
  • provide at least half of that rent relief as a waiver, with the rest to be either deferred or waived.

The code is applicable for small businesses who have an annual turnover of less than $50 million, and who either qualify for the JobKeeper scheme or have experienced a decline in turnover of 30 per cent or more during the emergency period (6 months from March 30, 2020). Small charities only need to show a 15 per cent reduction in turnover.

Small commercial tenants and their landlords are encouraged to visit the Small Business Development Corporation website for practical advice about reaching an agreement on rent relief.

Grants for commercial landlords  

The WA Government has set aside $100 million for land tax relief grants for commercial landlords. Landlords will receive grants equal to 25 per cent of their 2019-20 land tax bill for the property in which an eligible tenant is provided relief.  

Eligibility:  

  • commercial landlords must provide rent relief that equates to a minimum of 3 months’ rent and  
  • freeze outgoings to small businesses that have suffered at least a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to COVID-19.  

Grants will be administered through the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC). 

For more information see the eligibility criteria and how to apply for the commercial land tax grant.  

Support for commercial tenants  

Laws are in place to establish a moratorium on evictions for certain commercial tenancies in Western Australia and establish a mandatory code of conduct to assist with negotiations between landlords and tenants. The legislation includes:  

  • eviction moratorium, backdated to 30 March 2020 
  • freeze on rent increases 
  • restrictions on penalties for tenants who do not trade or reduce their trading hours 
  • no interest to be charged on rent arrears 
  • introduction of an enhanced dispute resolution process 
  • prohibition on landlords progressing proceedings that occurred after the restrictions were imposed, but before these laws came into operation. 

More information:  

Relief for on-demand transport industry  

The WA Government will be delivering a $9 million relief package to support the taxi and on-demand transport industry through the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes:  

  • $4.7 million in regional taxi assistance payments available to around 200 former country taxi licensees  
  • $1.5 million to provide a cash payment of $2,500 to around 600 authorised on-demand booking services  
  • $2.95 million to waive renewal fees for the next 12 months comprising $1.95 million for passenger transport vehicles and $1 million for on-demand booking services  
  • relieving stress for approximately 300 regional taxis and 1,000 metropolitan taxis in delaying the requirement for new or upgraded cameras from 2 July 2020, to at least 1 July 2021.  

Final details of the new regional assistance package are being worked through and will be released shortly. The payments are expected to be made July 2020.  

Find out more about the $9 million relief package

Water charges relief for regional businesses affected by COVID-19

Planned increases in non-residential water charges across 10 regional schemes have been delayed to provide financial relief for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The following regional schemes will benefit from the delay:

  • Cervantes
  • Cunderdin
  • Dunsborough/Yallingup
  • Fitzroy Crossing
  • Hamel/Waroona
  • Nilgen
  • Porongurup
  • Prevelly
  • Yarloop/Wagerup
  • Northam.

 Regional non-residential charges have been increasing each year following a 2013-14 review.

For more information see the Water charges relief for regional businesses affected by COVID-19 media statement.

Wastewater charges relief for business customers

Businesses with 4 or more wastewater fixtures may be eligible to receive up to $41,000 through Water Corporation’s major fixture waiver.

Eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 which are receiving JobKeeper payments can have their service charges for the period of 1 May 2020 – 31 August 2020 waived, as part of this initiative. 

Crisis support funding 

The WA Government, through Lotterywest, has established a $159 million COVID-19 relief fund to support organisations that are helping people experiencing hardship. 
  
An initial $59 million is available for crisis and emergency relief support for eligible not for-profit and community organisations to assist with costs related to increased demand for food, clothing, shelter and other critical needs. A further $100 million will be raised through Lotterywest sales.  
  
 The funding also includes:  

  • support for new equipment and resources to adapt to rapidly changing needs  
  • urgent financial relief for not-for-profit sports, arts and community organisations experiencing hardship as a result of cancelled events (including lost revenue and incurred or committed operational costs).  

Lotterywest will now allocate all profits previously assigned to the grants budget, anticipated to be about $100 million, directly into the newly created fund.  

How to apply  

Eligible not-for-profit organisations and community groups can apply immediately for grant support by visiting Lotterywest or by calling 131 777.  

Economic stimulus

$800,000 from New Industries Fund allocated to support innovation sector

The WA Government will allocate up to $800,000 from the $16.7 million New Industries Fund to support start-ups and small and medium enterprises affected by COVID-19.

The $16.7 million New Industries Fund was established to support and accelerate new and emerging businesses to diversify the WA economy and create new jobs.

The $800,000 package from the New Industries Fund will provide:

  • an additional $300,000 toward the Innovation Vouchers Program, bringing the total value of the program to $700,000
  • $400,000 to the WA Data Science Innovation Hub and the AustCyber WA Innovation Hub
  • $100,000 for education and mentoring programs through the X-TEND WA Program.

The Innovation Vouchers Program supports small and medium enterprises to access professional skills, services or knowledge to advance their ideas and commercial activities.

The WA Data Science Innovation Hub and the AustCyber WA Innovation Hub help build the hubs’ capacity to advise start-ups and small and medium enterprises on cyber security and the use of data science for business development, including in regional areas.

The education and mentoring programs delivered by the X-TEND WA Program will help boost entrepreneurs and innovative projects that support diversity and promote inclusion in the innovation community.

For more information see the $800,000 from New Industries Fund to support COVID-19 affected innovation sector media statement.

New procurement legislation to support local businesses and State's economic recovery

The WA Government has introduced new procurement legislation to slash red tape for businesses wanting to work with Government and assist with the State’s economic recovery.   

The Procurement Bill 2020 provides a simpler procurement framework for all Government departments and agencies, and replaced the State Supply Commission Act 1991. It streamlines tender processes and documents across Government and improves the integrity of public sector procurement with greater audit and investigation powers. 

For more information visit the Procurement Bill 2020 page.

FIFO and mining

$3.8 million resources export hubs to help WA recover from COVID-19

Two Western Australian-based resource sector export hubs worth $3.8 million will be established to help small and medium-sized enterprises get export-ready and be more internationally competitive.

Subsea Energy Australia (SEA) and Austmine have received $1.4 million and $500,000 respectively from the Australian Government that will enable them to help SMEs tap into new international markets.

Invest and Trade WA, part of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, committed $350,000 and in-kind support worth $50,000 to Austmine, and offered facilitation support to SEA, which helped secure their SME Export Hubs Initiative grants. 

For more information visit Invest and Trade Western Australia.

Asymptomatic testing for FIFO workers 

The WA Government has partnered with major resources companies and WA’s leading researchers to roll out COVID-19 testing for FIFO mining and resources workers who do not have symptoms.

This is the second pillar of the DETECT program, a joint initiative of the Department of Health and the WA research community. It will examine the prevalence of COVID-19 in WA and help to provide greater certainty around possible undetected transmission.

30,000 tests are expected to be conducted during the life of the project. While there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19, it is hoped the DETECT program will further assist in developing an even stronger evidence base on which to make policy decisions and ease restrictions.

Expenditure relief for WA mining exploration industry

The WA Government is providing guidance to clarify the criteria that can be applied in granting exemption from exploration expenditure requirements in Western Australia.

The measures will help provide relief to companies and help support the State’s economy to respond to COVID-19.

The Minister for Mines and Petroleum has enabled an exemption from exploration expenditure to be considered if tenement holders are unable to meet the tenement’s expenditure requirements as a direct result of COVID-19 or because of restrictions imposed by the State and Federal governments. This decision will be valid until 31 March 2021, unless rescinded earlier.

Applications can be made to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, detailing the reasons an extension of time is required through the existing Form 5 process.

In terms of tenement rents, there is an existing mechanism which allows tenement holders to apply for an extension of time to pay.

Other initiatives are being investigated that may assist the industry, while not compromising the integrity of our legislative framework.

Building and construction 

Housing stimulus package

The WA Government has announced a $444 million housing stimulus package to deliver a major boost to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery, and support the building and construction sectors.

The comprehensive housing package will provide incentives for Western Australians to build new homes and deliver more social and affordable housing options for Western Australians.

For more information please visit the Western Australian Government response to COVID-19.

Maintaining a skilled workforce

A $24.5 million support package will assist the building and construction industry to maintain a skilled workforce during the COVID-19 crisis, including:  

  • $10 million to provide an immediate, one-off payment of $2000 to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving Construction Training Fund (CTF) grant payments.  
  • $9.5 million grants scheme to assist employers to retain their existing apprentices, with payments beginning from 1 June 2020 backdated from 1 April 2020. Payments can range from $250 to $500 per month, per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trades facing the most critical skills shortages in the industry.  
  • Up to $1000 for apprentices and trainees employed in the industry to support the costs of undertaking short courses to assist in upskilling.  

Find out more about the support package to assist the building and construction industry 

Housing funds to support jobs in building industry

The WA Government is bringing forward funds in a $150 million housing investment package to help maintain a pipeline of work for local tradies and building businesses. 

The immediate focus of the stimulus is on refurbishing 70 homes across the metropolitan and regional areas. Up to 500 social and affordable homes will be constructed as the package unfolds. 

This stimulus initiative is expected to create and support about 1000 jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, providing more social and affordable housing for people on low incomes or at risk of homelessness.  

For more information see McGowan Government brings forward housing funds to support jobs in building industry.

Arts sector

Support for regional arts and galleries

A $1 million grants program for the regional arts sector and $195,000 relief fund for regional art galleries has been announced to support ongoing creative and cultural activity in Western Australia’s regions.

The Regional Arts Resilience Grants Program will offer up to $15,000 to regional artists, cultural practitioners, and arts and cultural organisations to support creative development, community engagement and capacity-building projects. The first round of this program opens for applications in July 2020.

The $195,000 relief fund will be available for eligible regional art galleries who had to cancel exhibitions and close their doors due to COVID-19. The funding will ensure galleries have the capacity to host visual art exhibitions and activities in the future, and assist recovery in re-establishing vital community arts activity.

For more information see the $1 million program to rekindle regional arts and Relief fund to support galleries to bounce back media statements.

Support for WA artists through $1.5 million COVID-19 support program

The WA Government has approved a $1.5 million support package, developed by the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s Board and the Art Gallery’s Foundation, to help Western Australian artists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the initiative, all living Western Australian artists represented in the State Art Collection will receive $2,000 towards creating an online State Art Collection archive. In addition, independent and art centre-based Aboriginal artists will share up to $525,000 through a targeted acquisition program to purchase existing works from up to 15 independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and from 25 Aboriginal art centres.

In total, more than 400 Western Australian artists will directly benefit from the initiative, injecting up to $1.5 million into the arts sector economy.

For more information see the Support for WA artists media statement.

Page reviewed 3 August 2020