Victorian authorities rethinks rejected SME grants over “incorrect” recommendation

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The favored eating precinct on Degraves Road in Melbourne. Supply: Unsplash/Steven Groeneveld.

The Victorian authorities has revealed it’s reassessing COVID-19 assist grant purposes it rejected final 12 months, after small companies claimed they had been supplied contradicting eligibility recommendation from Enterprise Victoria.

However different small enterprise homeowners declare they’ve been omitted within the chilly, with the Division of Jobs, Precincts and Areas (DJPR) taking a markedly totally different strategy to related rejected purposes.

The Enterprise Prices Help Program (BCAP) was designed by the Victorian authorities to help small companies materially impacted by the on-again, off-again COVID-19 lockdowns of 2021.

Its July version, BCAP2, plus subsequent extensions and top-ups, supplied as a lot as $8,400 every week to eligible companies.

The fifth spherical of BCAP funding, introduced in late September, was valued at $2.27 billion alone, on prime of the state and federal authorities funding supplied via prior iterations of this system.

The funding served as a lifeline for an estimated 175,000 small companies as well being authorities rushed to raise the state’s vaccination fee.

However some hard-hit companies had been by no means in a position to obtain BCAP2 funding⁠ — a loss that affected enterprise homeowners say had a profound affect on their operations.

GST necessities barred small enterprise from funding

To entry BCAP’s July extension, companies will need to have been registered for GST from July 15, 2021.

SmartCompany understands a handful of small enterprise homeowners known as Enterprise Victoria to make clear if they might apply for GST registration and backdate it to earlier than July 15, 2021, making them eligible for BCAP2 funding and subsequent top-ups.

These enterprise homeowners declare Enterprise Victoria representatives knowledgeable them that backdating their GST utility can be enough.

Nonetheless, some enterprise homeowners who acted on that recommendation discovered their BCAP2 grant utility was rejected on GST eligibility grounds.

In an try and overturn their rejections and entry hundreds of {dollars} in grant funding, some requested Enterprise Victoria final 12 months to determine the decision information by which representatives stated GST backdating was enough.

In an announcement supplied to SmartCompany late final 12 months, a Victorian authorities spokesperson stated the DJPR “has not discovered any proof to counsel brokers have been advising candidates to backdate their GST registration.”

That modified on Friday.

Some small companies handed “incorrect recommendation”, DJPR says

Responding to questions on rejected BCAP purposes, a DJPR spokesperson informed SmartCompany: “The place the Division of Jobs, Precincts and Areas has reviewed an utility and located there to have been incorrect recommendation supplied, the applying has been reassessed.”

The assertion confirms the claims of some small enterprise homeowners, who stated they had been not too long ago supplied with BCAP funding after pushing for Enterprise Victoria to determine name logs by which they had been informed GST backdating was enough.

The assertion additionally opens the door for companies which imagine they had been fed conflicting recommendation by Enterprise Victoria to hunt related reassessments.

Whereas the Victorian authorities has now confirmed a restricted variety of instances by which candidates had been supplied “incorrect” info, different candidates discover themselves in a complicated bind: in addition they backdated their GST registration and had been rejected, however weren’t knowledgeable to take action by Enterprise Victoria itself.

Small enterprise homeowners nonetheless search solutions

Jacob Kotaridis, founding father of occasions administration agency Modus Operandi, informed SmartCompany he’s nonetheless in search of clarification from Enterprise Victoria and Victorian Small Enterprise Minister Jaala Pulford over his rejection from the BCAP grant scheme.

He’s one among a number of enterprise homeowners nonetheless pleading their case to Enterprise Victoria, claiming they need to have acquired BCAP funding.

Kotaridis stated Modus Operandi was not registered for GST when the grant was introduced. Nonetheless, he was suggested by his tax agent to use for GST registration and backdate it to earlier than July 15, 2021, thereby assembly the BCAP eligibility standards.

He utilized for the assist funds on September 9. His declare was not formally rejected till December 10, 2021, when Enterprise Victoria stated he was not registered for GST on July 15.

“Backdated GST registration is just not enough,” Enterprise Victoria stated, in an e mail considered by SmartCompany.

With COVID-19 restrictions chopping deep into the occasions sector, Kotaridis informed SmartCompany BCAP grant funding would have drastically assisted his enterprise.

Now, his makes an attempt to know why Enterprise Victoria rejected his utility, regardless of being registered for GST via the backdating course of, have left him disillusioned and considering leaving the occasions sector solely.

“I’m making an attempt to piece collectively what occurred, but it surely’s nonetheless traumatising,” he says.

Kotaridis says such claims counsel a disparity in how claims are being handled: whereas small companies that weren’t immediately suggested by Enterprise Victoria to backdate their GST are being locked out of BCAP funds, he says companies that got this recommendation are actually accruing monetary assist.

“It’s actually fishy, I don’t perceive,” says Kotaridis says, who’s now contemplating submitting a recent enquiry with the Victorian Ombudsman to offer extra element into his rejected utility.

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