Victorian government announces $40 million support fund to help pubs, clubs and restaurants

Victorian government announces $40 million support fund to help pubs, clubs and restaurants

Words by Tom Parker

The government is starting to lend a hand.

The Victorian government has just announced that $40 million from the Business Support Fund created in response to the coronavirus will be allocated to pubs, clubs and restaurants.

The venues eligible include those with an individual annual turnover of up to $50 million who are not eligible to be covered by the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, another initiative introduced in light of the current crisis.

There is more to running a venue than just the rent, the liquor licence creates an immense cost for those on the floor, especially when they aren’t even able to fulfil that licence due to venue shutdowns. Given their liquor licences revert to the landlords above them in the case that there is a default on the lease, a tug of war is created where landlords won’t budge in creating a fair deal for the tenants below them.

So alongside the support package, free mediation services will be provided through the Victorian Small Business Commission to all tenants who hold a liquor licence, no matter their size. This has been introduced to help tenants reach an agreement with their landlord to provide rent relief during the crisis.

“Pubs and clubs are a vital part of Victorian life and it’s important that size does not mean that operators are locked out of support and protections in lease negotiations,” says the Minister for Coordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Martin Pakula.

“We are supporting Victorian businesses so they can emerge from this crisis in the best shape possible and quickly rebuild their workforce.”

A steering committee has been created to oversee the fund and monitor its progress. Those on the steering committee include Music Victoria, Australian Hotels Association, Community Clubs Victoria, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Restaurant and Catering Association Victoria.

UPDATE: This does not necessarily apply to live music venues. Theoretically, smaller venues who are part of a larger conglomerate (i.e. an overarching company that owns a number of venues) will be applicable, as long as they have under $50 million in individual annual turnover. Independent venues who fall under $50 million in annual turnover will not be applicable as it means they instead fall under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.

Find out more about the $40 million support fund at the Victorian Premier’s website.

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