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Check-up for virus-hit businesses

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AN assessment is being made of the financial hardship and wider effects COVID-19 is having on businesses on the Mornington Peninsula.

Mornington Peninsula Shire acknowledges many businesses are “doing it tough” and says it will use the data to help with the “recovery process”.

The move comes after the shire helped set up a system to deliver “care packages” to households throughout the peninsula.

Cr Simon Brooks says statistics for casual workers on the peninsula “linked to hospitality and tourism who may have lost their jobs” could be given to state and federal politicians.

“These are typically, but not always, younger people who are often studying,” he said.

“Because our shire has such a reliance on hospitality and tourism, I suspect we are affected much more in this space than many municipalities.”

He said casuals in the hospitality and tourism sectors were “more vulnerable, as it is purely circumstantial as to whether they have worked for a given employer for more than a year, and therefore eligible for the JobKeeper allowance as opposed to the JobSeeker allowance”. “The anecdotal evidence is some people are now couch surfing. Not all have families to fall back on.”

Cr Brooks said tourism, hospitality, live entertainment and the performing arts sectors were among the first businesses to be shut down “and will likely be the last to re-open, yet due to the casualisation of these sectors, have the least support”.

Cr David Gill suggested having “an online conference with our business community, and perhaps unions, to have a united perspective and/or leave these ideas to management to get moving quickly”.

The shire’s bid to help business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is part of a joint effort by the South East Melbourne (SEM) group of councils, which includes Frankston, Cardinia, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Kingston, Knox and Monash.

The information about how businesses are coping during the COVID-19 lockdown will be used individually and collectively by the councils for “recovery activities and to advocate on behalf of our businesses as a result of the COVID-19 impacts”.

Tania Treasure, the shire’s innovation and advocacy executive manager, said the online survey (which closes Sunday 16 May) seeks information from businesses about impacts to their revenue, staffing, supply chains and what government stimulus measure they are accessing.

Ms Treasure said the peninsula’s results could be extracted from the overall survey to compare with other municipalities. Specific research was also being made so modelling could be done of the peninsula’s economy.

“Both of these pieces of information will be important to help us get a good understanding of how and what to level the COVID-19 situation is affecting out business community to help inform recovery efforts,” Ms Treasure said.

First published in the Western Port News – 29 April 2020

Written by: Swanny

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