The City of Whittlesea has announced $800,000 for further relief and response funding to help our vulnerable community and support local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of this year.
The committed funds will go towards extending the Emergency Relief Fund by $300,000 and a $500,000 Business Relief and Resilience Program to help local businesses get back on their feet.
Chair, Panel of Administrators, Ms Lydia Wilson said residents and businesses need more relief and support right now for recovery to be achievable in the future.
“We are very pleased to commit a further $300,000 to fund a second stage of our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund that was established in April and has already helped nearly 6,000 people living in our City,” Ms Wilson said.
“The initial $200,000 Emergency Relief Fund is almost exhausted, having provided financial grants to 18 non-government and community support groups on the front-line of delivering basic material goods and support services to people in need at this very challenging time.
“We are also very pleased to announce $500,000 to support our local businesses who continue to experience a very tough time due to ongoing closures and reduced trade.
“The Business Relief and Resilience Program will provide financial support and local economic stimulus initiatives to help maintain business viability, re-activate our shopping precincts and boost our local economy.”
Funding allocations have been thoughtfully considered based on gaps in other financial support available and in consultation with front-line agencies, the broader community and local businesses via surveys and other engagement activities and insights.
“We knew that the recovery phase of COVID-19 was still a long way off when the State Government re-introduced stage 3 restrictions in July and soon after, these current and very strict stage 4 containment measures came into effect and will be in place for at least another two weeks,” Ms Wilson said.
“Our community and our local businesses are experiencing wide-scale socio-economic impacts that are not subsiding and we need to provide further relief and response measures now.”
The $300,000 for stage 2 of the Emergency Relief Fund will again be distributed to non-government organisations that continue to provide food, clothing, blankets and access to specialised support services.
The $500,000 Business Relief and Resilience Program will include Business Assistance Grants of up to $5,000.
“The grants program will assist businesses experiencing financial hardship; provide e-commerce and professional services support; and deliver shop local and activation initiatives to help them recover from the significant impacts that COVID-19 has caused by shutting down businesses on and off since April,” Ms Wilson said.
Businesses operating in the City of Whittlesea can apply for up to $5,000 from the Business Assistance Grants by demonstrating how their initiative will help them recover from COVID-19 impacts under three key themes - business adaption, revitalising spaces and business continuity.
“The Business Assistance Grants will open next week and applications will be assessed quickly to ensure eligible businesses can receive funds quickly,” Ms Wilson.
This second stage of relief and response will be funded from the provisional allocation of $1 million from last financial year’s operating surplus also adopted at today’s Council meeting.
These further relief and response funds are in addition to the COVID-19 Community Recovery Fund announced in the 2019/20 Budget that will be co-designed with residents, businesses, groups and clubs in 2021.
Non-government organisations and community groups seeking funding from the Emergency Relief Fund are encouraged to contact Council’s Social Policy and Planning team at Kathy.Pompetti@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.