Government assistance for fire-affected salons

Salons that have been affected by the recent bushfires will be eligible for grants and low-interest loans, it was announced this week.

The Federal Government has offered some reprieve to businesses, releasing details of top-up grants of up to $50,000 tax-free, and low-interest loans of up to $500,000 to businesses that have lost significant assets or had a major dip in revenue, which they can prove has been directly related to the fire disaster.

Peter Strong, CEO of Council of Small Business Organisations, was one of the experts consulted by the Federal Government on the best way to tackle the assistance packages. “We were hoping to get grants of around $20,0000, and the grants are $50,000,” he said of the Federal Government’s intention to lift the burden for those businesses affected. “That’s more than double what we were [hoping for].” In addition, the loans are intended to be utilised for restoring or replacing damaged assets and for working capital. “But you do need a healthy business to take advantage of that particular loan,” Mr Strong said.

With over 430,000 businesses in the affected areas – many of them salons – Mr Strong said that while the Federal Government hasn’t got a final number of how many business owners it expects to take up the offers, the final amount paid out could be as much as $800 million. “I don’t think [the cost] will be a billion dollars, but it could be up there,” he said.

Brianna Livivk, owner of Sea Bri’s Hair and Beauty in Woodgate, Queensland, noticed a sudden and significant decline in business, despite her salon physically surviving the fires. “Clients weren’t able to make their appointments because they were were worried about leaving [their house] and leaving their pets alone, just in case,” she said.

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