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Business owners ‘angry’ and ‘frustrated’ by Victoria’s COVID-19 grant system

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Article image for Business owners ‘angry’ and ‘frustrated’ by Victoria’s COVID-19 grant system

Some Victorian business owners affected by COVID-19 lockdowns say they’ve been waiting for more than five weeks and still haven’t received support grants.

Yesterday, Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Martin Pakula, told Tony Jones about 70,000 businesses have received government support under the Business Costs Assistance Program and the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund.

In total, they’ve been paid about $330 million.

“If there are delays they generally tend to relate to businesses where there’s been some kind of issue with their application,” Mr Pakula said.

But business owners say they don’t know what the problems with their applications are, and no one seems to be able to tel lthem.

Narelle Larkins, who runs a personal training business in Gisbourne, says she’s been waiting for five weeks for a $5000 grant.

“We were still expected to pay all of our bills, we still have staff to pay, rent to pay, body corporate bills, insurance,” she told Tony Jones.

“They clearly know we’re struggling and want to provide us with assistance but then they let is down with the process. It’s really quite frustrating to be honest.

“I just don’t understand why it’s taking them so long. It’s like they’re trying to pick holes in everyone’s applications to not give them the funding.”

Lisa, who owns a hospitality business in Melbourne, says she’s been told there’s an issue with her application, but no one can tell her what it is.

“I try to fix it, go online, can’t get any information,” she said.

“When the government shuts down all these business they don’t understand what they’re doing to people.

“I don’t want their money but if they’re going to shut us down I need their money. How am I supposed to pay my bills?

“It just makes me so angry.”

Press PLAY below to hear from four frustrated business owners

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