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Update 10 on COVID-19 restrictions – Victoria

September 21, 2020

HIA’s Priorities for Members

Metropolitan Melbourne

With case numbers continuing to fall over the weekend HIA‘s priorities with Government remain:

  1. A safe reopening of the renovations industry for occupied properties – which currently remains locked down until at least 26 October 2020. HIA is seeking a 28 September 2020 reopening, particularly for outdoor work, based on safe work practices being implemented in owner occupied homes.
  2. Reopening of display homes and colour and material selection centres by appointment also by 28 September 2020.
  3. Allowing clients to meet safely with their builder to prepare for future projects.

The effects of lost sales are being felt with new home sales in Victoria declining by 14.4 per cent in August as the Stage 4 restrictions more than offset the boost provided from the HomeBuilder grant.

Whilst the Government has approved a permanent six month timeframe to commence building work once a contract is signed, HIA has also sought support to extend the 31 December closing date for three months. If allowed, this would see those Victorians currently unable to access the grant due to the lockdown period, still able to consider entering into a contract once restrictions ease.

It is now very clear that the restrictions on travel, on home renovations and the closure of display homes in August has had a significant and immediate impact on sales in Victoria. The safe reopening of all of the above activities is a priority if home building is to continue operating and play a key role in Victoria’s economic recovery.

Regional Victoria

Following the recent lifting of some restrictions in regional Victoria display homes outside of Melbourne have re-opened. There are requirements in place that members must follow – including maintaining the density quotient and complying with the record keeping, signage and cleaning requirements.

While people living in metropolitan Melbourne remain banned from visiting display homes, it is pleasing that people living in regional Victoria now have this opportunity once again.

Registration and Licensing of Trades – Delayed until 2022

HIA is pleased that the Victorian Government has listened to our request to delay the trade registration and licensing reforms until early 2022.

The Government had confirmed that the commencement date for carpenters, which had been announced as the first step in the reforms, has been delayed due to the impacts of COVID-19.

A Regulatory Impact Statement and draft regulations for the carpentry trades is now expected in the first quarter of 2021 for public consultation.

HIA supports the delay – it is good news for our industry.

HIA had called for a delay of at least 12 months given the current business environment. Our members are managing the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and their ability to engage and to adopt these reforms is extremely limited in this type of working environment.

Round 3 Business Grant Applications Open

Over the weekend, the Victorian Government announced that applications for the recently announced $3 billion Business Resilience Package to help businesses impacted by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions are now open. Regrettably the grants under the Business Support Fund are not usually available to the building and construction industry.

Small and medium sized businesses make an enormous contribution to the Victorian economy and the package includes a range of cash flow support, payroll tax deferrals and fee waivers to help businesses through this challenging time.

The third round of the Business Support Fund is to assist small and medium sized businesses that must remain closed or operate under restrictions in line with the Victorian Government’s ‘How we work’ roadmaps.  Unfortunately the Victorian government seems to have decided to exclude the building and construction industry from eligibility for these grants. Some members in support industries may however be eligible. The exclusion of the building and construction industry does not reflect the impact of stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne on many building businesses, and especially renovators who have been banned from working in occupied homes since early August.

Eligible businesses will receive grants of either $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on the business’ annual payroll.

To be eligible, businesses must already employ staff, participate in the Commonwealth JobKeeper scheme, and have a payroll of up to $10 million. Full details on eligibility and how to apply are set out on the Business Support Fund webpage.

Applications will remain open until funds are exhausted or 11.59pm on 23 November 2020, whichever is earlier.

Contact HIA

Or email vic_enquiry@hia.com.au for further information