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Business Support Fund - Expansion FAQs

Questions and answers related to the Victorian Government's Business Support Fund - Expansion for small businesses.

Why did the Victorian Government launch the Business Support Fund?

The Business Support Fund – Expansion was launched to support small and medium businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire that may have been financially impacted by the return of Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions in these areas.

The program has been extended to support businesses impacted by the reinstated Stage 3 restrictions throughout regional Victoria announced on 3 August 2020. The program also includes an additional $5,000 payment for eligible businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, acknowledging the sustained period of Stage 3 and new Stage 4 restrictions.

What additional government support is available for businesses under the new Stage 4 and reinstated Stage 3 restrictions?

The Business Support Fund – Expansion program has been extended to provide additional support to businesses impacted by the new Stage 4 restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne and reinstated Stage 3 restrictions throughout regional Victoria. The supports impacted employing businesses include:

  • a one-off grant of $10,000 for eligible employing businesses in the 31 metropolitan Melbourne Local Government Areas and Mitchell Shire to reflect the sustained period of Stage 3 and Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions. Eligible businesses that have applied for or have received an initial $5,000 grant will be eligible for an additional $5,000 grant without submitting a new application
  • a one-off grant of $5,000 for eligible employing businesses in regional Victoria except for Mitchell Shire.

Businesses will need to meet all the eligibility criteria of the Business Support Fund – Expansion program to receive the grant.

What are the key dates for the program?

The program has been open for applications since Monday, 13 July 2020 and was due to close at 11.59 pm on Wednesday 19 August 2020. The extended program will now close at 11.59 pm on Monday 14 September 2020.

What businesses are eligible to apply for the Business Support Fund – Expansion program?

Businesses must fulfil all the following criteria to be eligible to apply for the $5,000 grant. They must:

  • operate a business located within Victoria; and
  • participate in the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme; and
  • employ people; and
  • be registered with WorkSafe on 30 June 2020; and
  • have had an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis; and
  • be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) as at 30 June 2020; and
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020; and
  • be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.

A sole trader and partnerships must employ people other than themselves to be eligible.

Not-for-profit organisations with annual revenue between $75,000 and $150,000 that are not registered for GST can apply for a grant, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria and are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission.

Businesses that have received funding from other components of the Victorian Government’s Economic Survival Package are eligible to apply for this program.

My business in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire has received a $5,000 grant under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program, do I need to submit a new application to receive the additional $5,000 grant?

No.  Eligible businesses from metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire that have applied for or have received an initial $5,000 grant under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program will be eligible for an additional $5,000 grant without submitting a new application. Where your business’ initial application is found to meet the eligibility criteria, the additional $5,000 will be processed automatically. You do not need to do anything further.

My business applied for the $5,000 grant under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program and I have not received a payment yet.  Do I need to submit a new application for an additional $5,000 grant?

Businesses from metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire that have applied for and are eligible for the initial $5,000 grant do not need to submit a new application.  If your business is eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion program and you have not yet received the $5,000 grant, you will receive a $10,000 payment.

I have a business located in Regional Victoria (except Mitchell Shire) - when can I apply for the $5,000 grant?

The Business Support Fund – Expansion program has been updated to allow for eligible businesses in Regional Victoria (except Mitchell Shire) to apply for the $5,000 grant.  The extended scope of the program including eligibility of businesses in Regional Victoria is included in the revised program guidelines on the  Business Support Fund – Expansion page.

Regional businesses will need to meet all the eligibility criteria under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program to receive the $5,000 grant.  To be eligible a business must:

  • be a participant in the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper Payment scheme; and
  • employ people and be registered with WorkSafe on 30 June 2020; and
  • have an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis; and
  • be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 30 June 2020; and
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020; and
  • be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.

I received an email telling me that my application was unsuccessful. What can I do about it?

If you have received an unsuccessful application email, check to see whether you have correctly provided your:

WorkCover Employer Number (WEN)

  • You may have entered incorrect details on your application. If you have forgotten your WEN, or if you don’t have one, visit: Getting started with WorkCover Insurance to set up your WorkSafe insurance and receive a WEN.
  • You can also register for a new WEN and submit a new application with your new WEN.

Business registration details

You may have entered incorrect details, or there may be an adverse finding against your business. To find out more:

ABN

  • Check you have entered your ABN correctly and that it is the same ABN you use for your payroll.
  • Make sure the ABN you have provided is the same ABN you’ve registered with JobKeeper, WorkCover and the State Revenue Office (SRO).

I am an early childhood service provider business but will no longer be eligible to participate in the JobKeeper Payment Scheme from 20 July. Can I apply for a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

If you are an early childhood service provider and were a JobKeeper participant on or before 20 July 2020 you will be eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion program if you operate a business that:

  • employs people
  • is registered with WorkSafe on 30 June 2020
  • had an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis
  • was registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 30 June 2020
  • holds an Australian Business Number (ABN) and held that ABN at 30 June 2020
  • registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.

Is my business eligible to apply for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant if it received an earlier $10,000 grant under the Business Support Fund?

Yes, if you have previously received a $10,000 grant under the Business Support Fund, you are eligible to apply for the Businesses Support Fund – Expansion program.

My business received a $10,000 Business Support Fund grant - do I have to apply to the Business Support Fund – Expansion program to receive to receive another grant?

Yes, businesses still need to submit an application to receive a grant under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program. This program has different criteria to the Business Support Fund.

However, if your business is located in metropolitan Melbourne and you have already submitted an application under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program for the initial $5,000 payment, you do not need to reapply to receive the additional $5,000. If you are found to be eligible, you will automatically receive the full $10,000 payment for businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Is my business eligible to apply for a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant if I received a payroll tax rebate or waiver?

Yes, a business is eligible to receive the $5,000 or $10,000 grant in addition the payroll tax rebate or waiver, if they meet the eligibility criteria.

I have more than one business, can I receive more than one Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

If you have more than one business registered with different ABNs and they can individually meet the relevant criteria, you may be eligible for a grant for each business. You would need to submit a separate application for each business.

What do I do if I accidentally submit two applications? How can I retract one?

Each business, as identified by its ABN, is eligible to receive only one grant of either $5,000 or $10,000, depending on your location.

If you have accidentally submitted two separate applications for one business (i.e. one ABN), you do not need to do anything to retract one of them – we will only pay one grant for that ABN.

My business is part of a payroll group - can I apply?

Eligible businesses must have had a payroll as defined by the State Revenue Office of less than $3 million in 2019-20.

If a business is in a payroll group, the payroll eligibility criteria applies to each business in the payroll group. That is, any member of a group with an annual payroll of up to $3 million in 2019-20 can apply and each business may be eligible for a grant.

If your business has a payroll of above $3 million in 2019-20, your business is not eligible for a grant.

What is a business that employs people?

Generally, an employing business is one that pays or is liable to pay wages to employees. When a business pays employee wages, employers are required to withhold PAYG tax on behalf of employees.

For the purposes of the program, a sole trader; or individual in a partnership; or individual trustees of trusts that do not employ any other people as workers are not considered an ‘employing business’ and is not eligible for a grant.

Businesses that hire workers through labour hire or training organisations (for example, apprentices), or that contract other companies, sole traders or individual partners, are not considered ‘employers’ for the purposes of this program.

Employing businesses are generally required by law to register for WorkCover insurance if they employ apprentices or pay annual wages of more than $7,500.

If you are unsure about your employer status and WorkCover obligations, the WorkSafe website contains more detailed information about employment arrangements and WorkCover requirements.

Alternatively, contact WorkSafe to speak to an agent about the unique circumstances of your business.

Why do I need to be registered with WorkSafe to be eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

The Business Support Fund – Expansion was launched to support businesses that employ people and have been highly impacted by the return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions.

To be eligible for a grant, a business must be registered with WorkSafe and able to provide a WorkCover Employer Number (WEN).

All businesses that employ apprentices or have paid more than $7,500 in remuneration in a financial year to individuals employed as workers are required to register with WorkSafe and pay a Workcover Insurance premium for that year. Sole traders, individuals in partnerships; or individual trustees of trusts that do not hire other people as workers cannot be registered.

For the purposes of the Business Support Fund – Expansion program, these businesses are not considered to ‘employ people’ and are not eligible. Similarly, if you were exempt from the requirement for WorkCover Insurance in 2019-20, for example you have paid less than $7,500 in remuneration, then you will not be eligible for the grant.

Typically, businesses that only contract workers or hire them from labour hire or training organisations are not considered to be employers. However, these contractors in some cases can be considered ‘employees’ and that business would be considered an employing business and is required to register for WorkCover insurance. Read the WorkSafe guidelines for more information on whether a contractor is considered an employee.

If you are unsure, the WorkSafe website has more detailed information about employment arrangements and WorkCover requirements. You can also contact WorkSafe to speak to an agent about the unique circumstances of your business.

The WorkCover Employer Number (WEN) provided by applicants is used to validate with WorkSafe that the business employs people and that they have a registered business operation located in Victoria.

Why do I need to provide evidence that my business is registered with WorkSafe

To be eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion, your business must employ people and be registered with WorkSafe. Registration for WorkCover insurance:

  • shows your business is employing people
  • provides additional information about the location of your business
  • confirms your business is operating in Victoria.

Eligible businesses operating in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire receive $10,000. Eligible businesses operating in regional Victoria receive $5,000.

How do I provide evidence that my business is registered with WorkSafe?

Include your business’ unique WorkCover Employer Number (WEN) on your application.

All businesses registered for WorkCover insurance have a WorkCover Employer Number (WEN).

All employers should have received their 2020-21 invoice from WorkSafe via email or mail in July 2020. The invoice contains the WEN at the top right-hand corner of the notice.

You do not need to attach your WorkSafe Certificate of Currency.

If I register my business with WorkSafe Victoria after 30 June 2020 am I eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

If you register your business with WorkSafe Victoria after 30 June 2020 and you were employing staff on or before that date, WorkSafe will backdate your registration to apply from the date that the company commenced employing people.  If this date is on or before 30 June 2020, your business will meet the WorkSafe registration requirement and be eligible to apply if all other criteria are met.

The WorkCover Employer Number (WEN) issued by WorkSafe when you register must be provided with your application. It will be used to verify that you are registered and are an employing business operating in Victoria.

I’ve applied for a WorkCover Employer Number (WEN). Can I apply for the Business Support Fund – Expansion program, even if I don’t receive my WEN before the program closes on 14 September 2020?

Businesses that have applied for WorkCover Insurance can apply to the Business Support Fund – Expansion program by providing their WorkSafe Application Reference Number in place of the WEN in their application. However, please note that your Business Support Fund - Expansion application must be submitted before the program closes on 14 September 2020.

A WorkCover Application Reference Number (WRN) is issued in the format of NR-XXXXXX-XXXXXX when a business submits an online application for WorkCover insurance. It appears in printable form once the application is submitted, and the applicant will also receive an email containing the number.

Please also note that Business Support Fund – Expansion applications with a WRN instead of a WEN may take longer to process as the WorkCover registration process needs to be completed before the business can be verified as an employer located in Victoria.

Once WorkSafe issues a WEN for your business, your eligibility for a Business Support Fund - Expansion grant will be assessed using the program's standard grant assessment process.

Please note that WorkSafe Victoria is experiencing a large volume of WorkCover Insurance applications and that there may be delays in their finalising or updating your registration.

If WorkSafe determines that you are not an employer for the purposes of WorkCover insurance, you will not be considered an ‘employing business’ under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program and therefore will be ineligible for a grant.

Will WorkSafe Victoria issue a Certificate of Exemption for businesses that are not required to register for Workcover insurance?

WorkSafe Victoria does not issue certificates or letters of exemption for businesses that are not required to register with WorkSafe Victoria for WorkCover insurance. WorkSafe will only register businesses and issue a WorkCover Employer Number (WEN) to businesses that are required by law to be registered for WorkCover.

Businesses that are not considered employers under WorkSafe legislation will not be registered and issued with the associated WEN, and are not eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion program.

Do I need to change my business address to the address where my ABN is registered?

No, the address listed against an ABN is not the primary method for verifying a business address in your application. The primary method of confirming a business address is a Worksafe Employer Number WEN. This is used to verify that the address you provided in the application matches the address of a workplace registered with WorkSafe.

My business employs people, but I am covered by other insurance and not required to register for WorkCover insurance. Am I eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

Businesses that employ apprentices or pay more than $7,500 in annual remuneration to employees are required by law to register for WorkCover insurance. Public liability and professional indemnity insurance or TAC third party insurance does not remove the requirement to be registered for WorkCover.

Typically, businesses that only hire workers through labour hire or training organisations (for example, apprentices), or that contract other companies, sole traders or individual partners are generally not considered ‘employers’.

When these businesses are deemed not to employ people for WorkCover purposes, they are not required to register for WorkCover insurance. If you are not considered an ‘employer’ in these circumstances you are not eligible for a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant.

If your business is not required to register with WorkSafe because it is not an 'employing business', the business is not eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant.

Sole traders, individuals in partnerships and individual trustees of trusts that do not employ other people are not required, or able, to register. These businesses are not eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant.

I employ apprentices, am I eligible to apply for the Business Support Fund - Expansion?

Businesses that directly employ apprentices are able to apply for the Business Support Fund – Expansion, if they meet all the other eligibility criteria. These businesses are required to register for WorkCover insurance and must provide their WorkCover Employer Number (WEN) in the application form.

If your business employs apprentices through a training organisation you may not be considered an “employing business” and may not be required to be registered for WorkCover. If you are not an employing business registered with, or liable to be registered with WorkSafe, you are not eligible for the Business Support Fund - Expansion grant.

Where you are unsure, the WorkSafe website contains more detailed information about employment arrangements and WorkCover requirements.

Alternatively, contact WorkSafe to speak to an agent about the unique circumstances of your business.

How do I provide evidence that my business is a participant in the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper Payment scheme?

Evidence of participation will be your most recent JobKeeper Business Monthly Declaration receipt ID or enrolment ID generated from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Business Portal. You are no longer required to download any documentation from the ATO Business Portal and attach it to your application.

You will need to supply the ATO JobKeeper receipt ID number in the application form and some additional information about your business, JobKeeper enrolment and current participation, which may be used to cross-check your business is a current participant.

To enrol for the JobKeeper payment, visit: Enrol for the JobKeeper payment

Please make sure the ABN on your application for the Business Support Fund - Expansion is the same as the ABN registered for JobKeeper.

Why do I need to provide my company’s financial details?

To be eligible for the grant, your business must have an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 (on an ungrouped basis). As this program is intended to support small and medium-sized businesses, an annual payroll tax threshold is used to make sure grants reach these businesses.

If your business has a payroll between $650,000 and $3 million you will have your payroll tax refunded and waived for the 2019-20 financial year.

While 2019-20 payroll tax will be refunded and waived for these businesses, it is important that where required, you still submit your annual payroll tax reconciliation to the State Revenue Office (SRO).

These reconciliations are used to verify that a business is under the payroll tax threshold and eligible for a Business Support Fund - Expansion grant. 2019-20 annual payroll tax reconciliations were due to the SRO by 21 July 2020.

How will you use the information I provide?

To be eligible for a Business Support Fund - Expansion grant, businesses must be registered for GST on 30 June 2020, hold an ABN and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020. Businesses must also be registered with the responsible federal or state regulator. In most cases, this is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

This can also be the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) or Consumer Affairs Victoria. We check with the relevant regulator to make sure the business is legitimate, has existed before the announcement of the program and do not have any adverse charges.

How do I register with the responsible federal or state regulator?

What evidence do I need to prove my business had an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20 on an ungrouped basis?

The State Revenue Office (SRO) will verify if your business had a payroll of less than $3 million for 2019-20. You are not required to attach documentation.

For some businesses, you may need to complete your annual payroll tax reconciliation, which is due by 21 July 2020 to enable the SRO to assess that you had a payroll of less than $3 million.

What are the responsible Commonwealth and State regulators that a business needs to be registered with?

For the purpose of the Business Support Fund – Expansion program, businesses must be registered with the responsible State or Federal regulators, where they are required to be by relevant and applicable law.

Charities or not-for-profit organisations must be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Incorporated associations must be registered with Consumers Affairs Victoria (CAV).

Generally, a business is defined as an entity with a business name registered with the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC).

However, some entity types and structures may not be required to register with ASIC. Some examples where you do not need to register your business name with ASIC include:

  • a sole trader or partnership trading under its legal name – that is, the individual(s) personal legal name(s).
  • a trust operating as a business under the same legal name as the trust (the legal name of the trust when registered).

Further information on registering a business is available on the Australian Government website  

You must ensure your business’ registration is current before you apply.

If your business is not registered with the required regulators when you apply, it will not be eligible to receive a grant.

Why does my business need to be registered for GST to be eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion program?

To be eligible for a grant under the program a business must be registered for GST as at 30 June 2020.

The Business Support Fund – Expansion Program was created to provide financial support to small and medium-sized employing businesses in Victoria. A business must register for GST when it has a GST turnover (gross income minus GST) of $75,000 or more. For the purposes of the program, GST registration and its associated obligations indicate the business was a bona fide business operating prior to 30 June 2020. It also provides a signal that the business has a large enough turnover to be an employer, which is also a program eligibility criteria.

Are not-for-profit businesses that are not required to be registered for GST eligible to apply for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

Charities and not-for -profit organisations that are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) on 30 June 2020 and have an annual revenue between $75,000 and $150,000 may now apply for the grant, if they meet the other eligibility criteria.

The application form now allows for applicants to attest that they are a not-for-profit within the annual revenue band that is registered with the ACNC.

Not-for-profit businesses are only required to register for GST if they have a revenue of more than $150,000.

I received an email stating ‘Application failed Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) check’. What does that mean?

As part of the grants assessment process, we check with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). If you receive this email, it means that the check has found that your business name is not registered, does not match the name you provided on your application, or that there has been an adverse finding against your business.

An adverse finding is taken into consideration when processing grant applications.

You must ensure your business’ registration is current before you apply. If your business is not registered when you apply, it will not be eligible to receive a grant.

Why are businesses who do not employ people not eligible for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?

The program was created to support employing businesses that have been highly impacted by the return to Stay at Home restrictions.

Given the availability of JobKeeper and JobSeeker payment schemes for non-employing sole traders; partnerships; or trustees of trusts the program was designed to support as many employing businesses as possible.

Non-employing businesses may be able to access support through the Business Advisory and Wellbeing Program. Details of this program will be available soon on the Business Support Package page.

If I am a successful applicant, are there restrictions on what I can spend the funds on?

You can spend funds on business activities and costs, including:

  • employee salaries
  • utilities and rent
  • seeking financial, legal or other advice to support business continuity planning
  • developing the business through marketing and communications activities
  • other supporting activities related to the operation of the business.

I have not heard about my application. Is it still being considered?

The Department aims to provide applicants with an initial assessment of their application by 9 October.

Delays may happen if:

  • the application does not meet all the criteria outlined in the guidelines
  • you have not submitted the requested supporting documentation
  • the submitted documentation, such as a gas bill/Council rates, or banking information is incorrect
  • the State Revenue Office is unable to verify if the business had less than $3 million in payroll tax for the year 2019-2020
  • the application has been returned to you for amendments
  • more than one application has been submitted for the same business
  • you entered incorrect details on the application form - for example, incorrect ABN, WorkCover Employee Number (WEN) and banking details (for successful applicants).

Why is it important that I attach accurate supporting documentation to my application?

A utility bill, lease agreement or council rate notice will clearly indicate your business’ physical address within an eligible local government area.

If your supporting documentation and geographical eligibility cannot be verified, the application will be returned, and you will be asked to update your documentation.

What happens if I have submitted an application and not received any email notifications?

Your spam filter may have may have prevented you from seeing email notifications from us, so please check your junk inbox for emails from covid19programs@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

You may be emailed if:

  • you have not submitted the correct supporting documentation
  • your application is considered eligible and you have been awarded a $5,000 grant, or
  • your application is ineligible as it does not meet the eligibility criteria of the program.

Will my business be audited by the Victorian Government after the grant has been paid?

Your business may be subject to audit by the Victorian Government or its representatives. You may be required to produce evidence (such as payroll reports to demonstrate impact) up to four years after the grant has been approved.

Should I include grant funding in determining my business’ annual turnover figure?

Government grants received, such as JobKeeper and the Business Support Fund - Expansion, when the grant is a “payment for no supply” and not taxable - are not to be included in annual turnover figures.

How do I know what the status of my application is?

Your application will appear in the Business Victoria Grants Portal as one of five statuses:

  • draft – you have started an application
  • submitted – you have accepted the terms and conditions and submitted
  • under assessment – your application has been received and is being assessed by the Business Victoria team
  • successful – your application was successful
  • unsuccessful – your application was unsuccessful.

You will receive notifications as your application progresses, after you submit it. We cannot contact you while your application remains in ‘draft’, as you haven’t yet provided permission for the department to use your contact details.

My business has only started operating in the last 12 months and may not be eligible for JobKeeper. Can I still apply for a Business Support Fund – Expansion grant?


Businesses that started operating in the last 12 months can still apply for the Business Support Fund – Expansion grant. You will need to be a participant in JobKeeper and in your application, provide either the ATO JobKeeper Enrolment ID or Declaration Receipt ID. This is used with your business’ ABN to validate with the ATO that your business is participating in the program.

Please visit the ATO website for more information about JobKeeper at Eligible Employers.

Return to the Business Support Fund - Expansion program page

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