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01 Jun 2021, 9:14 PM UTC

Alpine businesses say they can't access support

Alpine businesses say they can't access support
Source: ABC
Victorian alpine businesses have not been able to access targeted financial support from the state government because of eligibility criteria that a regional official says are too prohibitive. Mount Hotham Chamber of Commerce president Steve Belli said many businesses had not received a cent of the $25,000 grants on offer because they had accessed other small business assistance. Given the extremely trying times during the pandemic, Mr Belli said, most businesses had accessed other grants. "If you've accessed any of those programs, it cancels out the money that would come in from [the Alpine Assistance Package]," he said. "There's been no additional support from the government for the alpine area." Mr Belli has been lobbying to have the grant criteria changed but, so far, has been unsuccessful.  "It's been nice to hear the government wanting to support us, but these programs haven't done that," Mr Belli said. 'Not asking for a free ride' Mount Hotham and Falls Creek were only operational for four days last year as a result of restrictions and lockdowns. Despite this, the resorts were still required to pay a mandatory service charge fees to cover the cost of things such as sewage, snow clearing and ski patrols. Now, there are fears businesses are at risk of permanently closing if they can't pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in service fees they owe from last year's shortened season. "Logic says if you can't pay it, you become insolvent ? and that's the end of it," Mr Belli said. "I'm hoping it doesn't come to that but, at the end of the day when people can't pay their debts, that's what happens." He's calling on more support from the government to help cover those costs, and for businesses to be able to access the grants originally designed for the alpine region. "We're not saying we need to get it for nothing. We're saying it needs to be knocked down a fair bit in terms of being reasonable for the amount of days we were open." "They need to not take away those existing grants that everyone is eligible for, or not call it an alpine assistance package because it just doesn't assist the alpine area," he said. The government was contacted for comment.