Blue Mountains News

Council Supports Small Business in Bid for Bushfire Recovery Grants

By Blue Mountains City Council
Posted: 18 Jul 2020
Blue Mountains City Council has called on the federal government to help small business operators who have been impacted by bushfires, but found themselves ineligible for bushfire recovery grants.

A number of Blue Mountains businesses affected by last summer’s unprecedented bushfires have sought assistance from the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, but many have been unable to obtain the grants intended for them.

The issue has arisen because of different requirements by two Commonwealth agencies – the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The ATO requirement for a small business is that an Australian Business Number (ABN) is only mandatory where income is over $75,000 a year. However, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency will only provide grants for small businesses that have an ABN.

Many of the small businesses in the Blue Mountains impacted by the recent bushfires are small owner-operator businesses, e.g. tour guide services, many of whom do not have an income over $75,000 a year, making them ineligible for a small business grant through the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.

“Small business in the Blue Mountains have been devastated,” said Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill. “First by bushfires and now by COVID-19.

“It is unacceptable that many of those who need it most are affected by this anomaly. Given the recent bushfires were mostly in high tourist locations (South Coast, Wollondilly, Central Coast), I would be very surprised if this is not impacting most local government areas affected by bushfires.

“It’s critical that all levels of government work together to assist those in desperate need of support.”

The Mayor has written to the federal government (the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasure; the Hon. David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management; local Member for Macquarie, Ms Susan Templeman MP) urging the ABN requirement be removed so that ATO-compliant small businesses are eligible for the small business grants.

 
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