I hope this message finds you safe and well in the circumstances.
Ahead of any changes that may be made to the COVID-19 restrictions tomorrow, I am taking this opportunity to update you on Master Builders Victoria’s (MBV) efforts to obtain urgent financial support for small building and construction businesses unable to work inside occupied premises during the recent and latest circuit breaker lockdown.
We know that there is a misconception that the whole building and construction industry is permitted to fully operate during these circuit breaker lockdowns.
However, that simply isn’t the case for many of our members.
MBV has again written today to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on behalf of those MBV members who are still not permitted to work inside occupied premises to request that:
- As part of the current COVID-19 restrictions easing, immediately permit small building and constructions industry businesses to work in a COVIDSafe manner inside occupied premises, as they were when our State came out of the last lockdown; and
- Seek the inclusion of these businesses in the Victorian Government’s business support grants.
For some time now MBV has been highlighting this important issue to the Victorian Government and, last week, the President of MBV Mark Little and I met with The Hon. Danny Pearson to again discuss this issue.
We also wrote to Minister Pulford on 2 March 2021 to raise the issue.
Some building and construction businesses that were provided with financial assistance from the Business Support Fund in other lockdowns are now ineligible – and it is unclear why.
Some of those businesses received payments based on a 30 per cent downturn.
However, the registered ANZSIC code eligibility criteria being used for the recent and current lockdown support means that they are now deemed ineligible as building and construction is not included as an eligible profession.
This is despite those builders, who largely undertake indoor home renovations in occupied premises, not being permitted to work.
On behalf of our members, MBV has continually highlighted that of the 110,000 Victorian businesses in our industry, 98.8 per cent are small businesses, many of whom do not have the resources to continue absorbing additional costs without support.
What we are Calling for
In view of the continuing challenges faced by our industry, MBV has urged the Victorian Government to urgently re-consider providing specific support measures to assist our members that are not permitted to carry out work inside occupied premises during these lockdowns.
This support will help those members survive and continue to ensure that the safety measures that have kept our industry safe throughout the pandemic are maintained.
It is vital that the Business Support Fund, and any future programs, provide access to those businesses that have fallen through the funding cracks.
Even if the lockdown is lifted tomorrow night and our members are permitted to work once again, we have requested that the State Government continues to work with MBV, and other sections of the building and construction industry that are impacted by the issue [such as plumbers and electricians etc.] to devise new support package criteria that could be used for future lockdowns.
We are here to help
We know it’s a challenging time for many of you, and it’s important to us that you know we are pushing hard on your behalf to address this issue.
In the meantime, don’t forget to make use of the special resources we have designed for members to assist you. And at a personal level, our team is here to support you.
If you need advice, then please make sure you call our team on 03 9411 4555 so that we can support you through these challenging and unprecedented times.
Stay well and stay safe.
CEO Master Builders Victoria