Small business COVID-19 Sole traders

Labor’s sole trader support falls short as predicted

11 February 2021

Only a small fraction of financial support promised by the Andrews Labor Government has been distributed to sole traders financially disadvantaged by COVID-19 restrictions.

After facing a wave of criticism for initially excluding sole traders from Victoria’s COVID business support programs, the Andrews Labor Government finally announced a sole trader support program in September 2020.

However, Labor quickly came under fire with The Nationals highlighting multiple problems with the onerous eligibility criteria for the program. 

Member for Euroa and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan said in the months leading up 4 December, the Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) has now uncovered the Andrews Labor Government program has only distributed a measly 12 per cent of the $100 million pledged to support sole traders.

“PAEC exposed only 4000 of Victoria’s approximately 400,000 sole traders could actually meet Labor’s difficult criteria for the program,” Ms Ryan said.

“Frustratingly, this highlights Labor’s inability to understand the operations of small business and justifies The Nationals criticisms of the sole trader program.

“It’s disgraceful that almost 12 months on from COVID-19 restrictions, the majority of sole traders have missed out on critical financial assistance – road blocked by Labor’s restrictive eligibility criteria.

“Daniel Andrews’ sole trader support program has failed the very people he promised it would help.”

The Andrews Labor Government have been forced to review the criteria for the sole trader support program so it is more accessible.

Ms Ryan said sole traders needed financial support months ago and she was disappointed Labor failed to recognise its program would not help the majority of sole traders in need.

“It beggars’ belief that the state government would announce a crisis funding program with criteria so tight that it can’t be accessed,” Ms Ryan said. 

“With constantly changing restrictions the small business community needs less daily spin from Daniel Andrews and more prioritised financial support.

“Sole trader support should have been distributed without delay in September 2020 when the need first arose.

“It’s time Labor removed the road blocks and provide sole traders immediate access to this funding.”

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