Social services council, small business owners call for income support during Victorian lockdown

Victoria’s most vulnerable residents face another challenging week ahead, after the state’s lockdown was extended for another seven days.

Six new locally acquired cases were recorded today, taking the state’s outbreak to 60 cases.

The Commonwealth says it will consider offering financial support to those impacted, but the head of the Victorian Council of Social Service has accused the federal government of being “tone deaf” for not committing to Jobkeeper or Jobseeker-style payments.

Emma King says the mental health toll of the state’s fourth lockdown has been sigificant.

“We know there are Victorians who literally can’t put food on the table, they can’t buy their medication, they’re not going to be able to pay their bills and they’re incredibly stressed about the situation they’re in,” she said.

“The federal government has said they’re going to consider offering support to Victorians. Well, Victorians don’t get to consider whether they’re going to eat meals, whether they’re going to turn their lights, whether they’re going to turn their heaters on. We need the federal government to step up and to deliver.”

Laeleigh Benson has a garden maintenance business and says without governement support they’ve been forced to dip into their savings.    

“Generally on average a week would be between the $2,000 and $3,000 a week so instead of saving money we’re spending our savings at the moment,” she said.

From a state perspective, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says 76,000 businesses will be eligible for grants of $2,500 for each of the two weeks of lockdown.

The state government has announced a $209 million business support package on top of the $250 million dollar package announced on the weekend.

Tim Pallas has told ABC radio Melbourne sole traders including taxi and ride share drivers will be eligble.