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Local government response to COVID-19

Last updated: 25 May 2020

Local government authorities in Western Australia are putting plans in place to support their communities and local economies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Here is an overview of some initiatives that WA local governments have put in place for their local small business community.

Local planning exemptions – State Government

On 11 April, the State Government announced a range of temporary exemptions to local planning requirements to help manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Planning Minister, Hon Rita Saffioti, will have the authority to temporarily override the requirements and conditions of local planning schemes and approvals. 

Note that bricks-and-mortar applications are not included in the exemptions and the usual approvals will need to be sought, usually within 90 days of the current WA State of Emergency being lifted.

The following matters related to temporary changes that respond to the COVID-19 crisis will no longer require planning approval:

  • medical or health-related facilities required in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • truck and logistic companies needing to deliver goods but currently with restricted loading and unloading times
  • businesses seeking to adapt by changing their current approved use
  • restaurants and cafes required to sell takeaway in contravention of current planning conditions
  • people operating their businesses from residential zones
  • the parking of commercial vehicles on residential properties
  • businesses needing to change signage
  • provision of temporary workers' accommodation
  • the requirement to provide up to 10 car bays and/or cash in lieu for non-residential development
  • local government authorities to advertise planning proposals solely on their websites.

In addition, a two-year extension has been granted for all current development approvals to assist job-creating projects during the recovery stage. The exemptions aim to help businesses and local government authorities respond and adapt quickly during the crisis, and to support the delivery of essential services.

Further information from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage

Local governments A-G

Armadale

The City of Armadale will launch a new online platform in the coming weeks to support the city’s local business community.

The platform, called ‘Localised’, will be available to all businesses in the Armadale area and enable them to share information, receive expert advice, be notified of local procurement opportunities and topromote their services to other businesses.

The city has also launched a #SupportArmadaleLocal campaign, encouraging community members to shop and spend locally.

City of Armadale COVID-19 information hub

Ashburton 

The Shire of Ashburton has introduced financial support and relief measures to assist local businesses during COVID-19, including:

  • not increasing rates or fees and charges in 2020-21 and deferring rates notices until the first week of November 2020 
  • implementing a monthly rates payment option with no added fees or interest to offer a more flexible payment arrangement for ratepayers in hardship
  • extending special payment arrangements for rates until June 2021
  • offering 12 months rent relief on leases to small businesses, community groups and clubs in council facilities.

In addition, the shire has established a COVID-19 Small Business and Community Grants Fund of $250,000 which will be available to eligible businesses, community groups and sporting clubs, including event holders, who can demonstrate hardship or losses due to coronavirus restrictions. More information and applications for these grants will be available via the Shire of Ashburton website soon. 

Shire of Ashburton COVID-19 relief package

Augusta Margaret River

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has initiated a Community Care Package to support people in the community, including local businesses. The actions include:

  • no rate increases for the 2020/2021 financial year
  • waiver of all non-regulatory shire fees and charges until 30 June
  • no penalty interest on outstanding rates until 30 June 2020
  • flexible payment plans for those experiencing financial hardship
  • community care package funding launched on 26 March 2020 to support projects including those that:
    • continue support services through business networks and associations
    • develop toolkits and other supports to assist businesses through the pandemic
    • provide access to information resources for businesses
    • deliver financial or business remodelling advice for the business community
    • support businesses providing a community service in response to the pandemic
    • support business activation and marketing, when businesses can reopen.

Shire of Augusta Margaret River COVID-19 information

Bayswater

The City of Bayswater has created an advisory committee to fast-track decisions in response to the pandemic. The committee proposed the following measures to support the business community:

  • waive rental charges for commercial leaseholders of City properties, for six months
  • launched a ‘Buy in Baysie’ online directory to promote local businesses
  • make available small business grants of up to $2,000 to help businesses move online.

City of Bayswater COVID-19 information

Belmont

The City of Belmont has introduced COVID-19 support measures to assist its business community, including:
•    endorsing a COVID-19 financial assistance package
•    introducing new COVID-19 Business Innovation Grants of up to $2,000
•    creating an online business directory of local businesses.

City of Belmont COVID-19 Business Hub

Broome

The Shire of Broome has approved a COVID-19 community support package, with new measures to help residents and businesses, including:

  • the freezing of rates, fees and charges for 2020-21
  • rent relief for businesses that occupy shire premises 
  • a community support grants program

Shire of Broome COVID-19 updates

Bunbury

The City of Bunbury has created a COVID-19 relief and recovery plan that includes:

  • no rate or waste and recycling charge increases in 2020/21
  • relaxation of rate payment periods this financial year
  • suspension of debt recovery and no penalty interest charges to rates and billing until 30 June
  • refunds on outdoor eating fees and no street trading fees for new traders – backdated to 1 March
  • suspension of lease and rental payments for certain city owned properties – backdated to 1 March
  • free extensions for development approvals plus extended timeframes and express turnaround for change of use and development approval applications
  • waiver of renewal fees for home-based businesses and occupations
  • advance notice to be given to local businesses on projects and procurements
  • two week payment terms for creditors.

City of Bunbury COVID-19 relief and recovery plan

Busselton

The City of Busselton has committed to a range of economic and community response measures to the pandemic, including:

  • freezing interest or fees and charges for outstanding rates from April – June 2020
  • discontinuing debt recovery action on outstanding rates for those impacted by COVID-19 (considered on a case-by-case basis)
  • considering rate relief for affected small businesses 
  • waiving commercial lease fee payments on city-owned premises for severely affected businesses until 30 June (considered on a case-by-case basis)
  • increasing the focus on local procurement
  • paying creditors within 14 days 
  • considering early release of contractor bonds and deposits
  • fast-tracking building and planning approval processes by relaxing supporting information requirements in certain cases.

City of Busselton COVID-19 response details

Cambridge

The Town of Cambridge has announced a range of business assistance measures in response to the pandemic, including:

  • not increasing rates, fees, charges or tariffs in the 2020-21 budget 
  • waiving interest charges on overdue payments
  • paying creditors within 14 days
  • refunding bookings of town facilities
  • granting a three-month rent-free period to commercial tenants of town properties
  • launching a ‘buy local’ campaign
  • waiving building permit and development application (DA) fees including for  ‘change of use’ for the next three months
  • cancelling annual inspection fees for affected food businesses and not requiring a DA for existing restaurants or shops to be used as take away food outlets for the next six months
  • offering free parking until 30 June 2020 and minimising parking restrictions to support take away and home delivery services.

Town of Cambridge COVID-19 community information

Canning

The City of Canning is amending its 2019-2020 annual budget to include immediate response plans for COVID-19 including fee waivers for business, a consideration of existing lease arrangements and a new financial hardship policy, to be considered at their April council meeting. Temporary rent concessions for tenants of council owned property and a freeze on rates and charges in response to the pandemic will be proposed as part of the city’s 2020-2021 annual budget.  

Grants are available for businesses operating in the City of Canning or delivering services to Canning residents to support initiatives that address the social impact of COVID-19. Applications for digital grants of up to $2,500 are closing 18 May 2020, to support online platforms or activities that include an online component.

City of Canning coronavirus information page

Carnarvon

The Shire of Carnarvon has announced that it will freeze rate increases for 2020-21, consider rates relief including more flexible payment options for those experiencing hardship, and review shire fees and charges in response to COVID-19.

The shire will also reinforce their buy local policy and small business friendly payment terms to support local businesses through the crisis.

A recovery plan is in the process of being drafted to help the shire respond effectively to the pandemic.

Shire of Carnarvon COVID-19 update

Cockburn

The City of Cockburn has offered the following financial support to local businesses:

  • deferral of rate payments for three months or the ability to enter into a more generous payment arrangement
  • suspension/deferment of up to 100 per cent of rent payments (excluding outgoings) for three months to 30 June for tenants of City owned or controlled premises
  • compassionate payment options for commercial debtors
  • paying suppliers within 15 days from the date of invoice.

The city is also preparing an online Cockburn Restart Hub, where local business owners will be able to access information on:

  • how to reopen their business safely
  • grants and support for businesses
  • information on the latest government stimulus support packages.

City of Cockburn COVID-19 information

Dandaragan

The Shire of Dandaragan has announced a range of measures to support the local small businesses through COVID-19. The approved measures including the waiving of a range of charges including:

  • food premise licensing and inspection fees
  • accommodation venue licensing and inspection fees
  • planning application and building application fees for small businesses

The shire will also implement payment arrangements on a case-by-case basis for debtors and ratepayers affected by COVID-19, as well as removing interest charges on overdue rates. The authority is currently preparing its 2020-21 budget which will include a include a range of targeted local projects and procurement to support the local community and economy.

Shire of Dandaragan COVID-19 support measures

Fremantle

The City of Fremantle is offering a safety net to businesses that are ineligible for support provided by the State or Federal Government stimulus packages via:

  • allowing rates to be paid weekly or fortnightly
  • deferral of statutory fees for a period of 180 days (6 months) from the date a business fully or partially temporarily closes, or can demonstrate alignment with the criteria
  • withdrawal of alfresco dining fees for the period of full or partial temporary closure
  • payment plans may be considered on a case by case basis for businesses in extreme financial duress directly resulting from COVID-19.

Eligible City of Fremantle tenants will also be offered additional support for rental payments and outgoings.

In addition, the city has introduced:

  • free on-street parking for the next three months
  • refunds for all cancelled bookings at city facilities
  • waiver of inspection fees for food businesses providing takeaway food
  • fast-tracked payment of creditors
  • planning approval exemptions for many changes of land use and other fast tracked approvals for business.

City of Fremantle COVID-19 information for businesses

Geraldton

The City of Geraldton council has directed the CEO to prepare a 2020-21 budget scenario based on a freeze of rates, fees and charges; abolition of all parking fees; and waivers on rates instalment fees and interest.

All parking meters within the city were suspended from 25 March 2020 and ticket-free, free parking implemented with time limits remaining enforced.

City of Geraldton response to COVID-19

Local governments H-M

Joondalup

The City of Joondalup is supporting local businesses through COVID-19 by launching a Joondalup Business Catalogue. Businesses located in the city can use this platform to create a free business listing and use its business diagnostic tool.

City of Joondalup COVID-19 Information

Kalamunda

The City of Kalamunda has endorsed a COVID-19 crisis relief fund to provide eligible small businesses with a one-off grant of up to $1000. Grant applications are open from 1 July to 31 August 2020.

City of Kalamunda COVID-19 crisis relief fund

Karratha

City of Karratha is providing a range of measures to provide support to small businesses during the pandemic, including:

  • establishing a network of city officers to provide one-on-one advice to businesses regarding government and other support initiatives
  • providing increased access to debt write-off
  • freezing rates and existing city fees and charges in 2020/21
  • purchasing from local suppliers and contractors
  • promoting local business through an advertising and social media campaign
  • waiving rent for small business tenants of city properties for six months
  • providing compassionate terms to city debtors.

City of Karratha coronavirus information

Melville

The City of Melville has announced a community stimulus package for local households and businesses. 

Some of the measures for business include: 

  • waiver of lease payments for commercial tenancies in council-owned buildings will for six months where hardship can be demonstrated
  • free one hour parking in all council-owned car parks
  • commercial and community groups that have leases with the city have already been offered deferral of lease payments until further notice
  • a one-off grant funding round of $30,000 for Small Business and Creatives Digital Grants (individual grants available to a maximum of $3,000) to assist businesses to transition to online and digital platforms.

City of Melville COVID-19 business support page

Mundaring

The Shire of Mundaring has adopted the following strategies to support local businesses:

  • no increases to fees, charges or rates in 2020-21
  • increased flexibility in payment options
  • a six month freeze on all commercial lease payments from 1 April (payable after 1 October 2020)
  • case by case consideration of additional relief for tenants experiencing financial hardship
  • to not start any eviction proceedings or legal action for debt recovery, or levy penalty interest charges to outstanding rates for six months.

Shire of Mundaring COVID-19 FAQs

Local governments N-S

Narrogin

The Shire of Narrogin has endorsed a COVID–19 relief and recovery strategy outlining short, medium and long term response measures. Businesses in Narrogin will be supported with:

  • rate relief packages of up to 100 per cent (on application and approval) for businesses able to demonstrate a direct negative impact as a result of emergency declarations
  • adoption of a rates freeze for 2020/21
  • rent relief for named tenants in shire-owned properties, including businesses and not-for-profit associations.

Shire of Narrogin COVID-19 information

Northam

The Shire of Northam is working with the Northam Chamber of Commerce and the Wheatbelt Business Network to identify how they can support local businesses during COVID-19.

Staff are currently in contact with food businesses to assist with the mandatory closures of dining areas and transition to takeaway and delivery food services. The shire has also establishing a Facebook Group for local business to communicate directly with officers.

The shire will be reviewing its purchasing procedures and policies to ensure, where possible, all purchasing is local.

Shire of Northam COVID-19 page

Perth

The City of Perth has created a 12 month, $18 million relief and rebound plan to provide immediate support to affected businesses, rate payers and residents.

The plan includes:

  • accelerating capital works projects to boost the economy and maintain jobs
  • no increase in municipal rates and charges in 2020/21, including sanitation and waste charges
  • a three month suspension of lease and rental payments to all tenants leasing city-owned property, including the relinquishment of bank guarantees
  • an express planning service for change of land use and development applications for small businesses
  • a full refund for all cancelled bookings at city properties and facilities
  • 15 day payment terms for creditors, reduced from 30 days
  • free one hour on-street parking

In addition, debtors experiencing hardship will receive a range of options to assist in payment, such as a waiver of certain licence and planning fees and charges.

City of Perth COVID-19 update

Serpentine Jarrahdale

The Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale is offering free advisory sessions to local small businesses covering matters including government assistance measures, occupation health and safety for employees and business continuity planning. 

There will also be no increase in shire rates for the 2020-21 year.

Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale COVID-19 Business Support

South Perth

The City of South Perth has adopted a Local Community Response and Relief Package to provide support to local small businesses affected by COVID-19. The measures include:

  • fee support for tenants and license holders operating within City owned and managed facilities
  • deferral of rent reviews for commercial property leases (except by tenant request)
  • procurement policy updated to consider procurement from local businesses 
  • refunding of alfresco fees and trading permit fees to businesses impacted by COVID-19 
  • pro-rata refunds of licence fees for businesses that have ceased trading due to restrictions
  • one hour free ticket parking introduced in several city car parks and parking enforcement limited to compliance for safety and accessibility purposes 
  • loading times relating to the delivery of goods and/or fuel have been relaxed
  • one additional general waste voucher made available on request per business
  • city supplier payments will occur on a weekly basis
  • establishment of a buy local, shop local page on the city’s website to promote local businesses.

In addition, the city is seeking to introduce an exempt land use policy to remove the need for planning approval for new small-scale, low impact businesses.

City of South Perth COVID-19 support

Stirling

The City of Stirling has announced a list of actions to reduce the financial impact of the crisis including providing rent abatement and deferral for commercial leases of city-owned tenancies. More support is due to be announced shortly.

City of Stirling COVID-19 support measures

Subiaco

The City of Subiaco's COVID-19 response package, worth around $4 million, currently includes the following commitments:

  • free parking until July in city-owned car parking stations, to support medical staff working at KEMH and QEII medical centres and essential staff working in Subiaco.
  • no parking tickets for drivers who overstay time-restricted parking in city-owned bays
  • no increase to rates or waste services charges in 2020
  • rates notices delayed until October 2020
  • fees and charges removed from many services
  • rent relief package to support the most vulnerable social and commercial city tenants
  • easier approvals and compliance to help businesses adapt to the changing environment.

The city is also investigating a rates reduction, as budget preparations get underway. Further responses are expected to be announced.

City of Subiaco COVID-19 webpage

Swan

The City of Swan has announced measures to support their community in response to COVID-19. Details include:

  • no increase in rates and no interest on rates and other charges in 2020-21
  • an up to six month rental freeze for eligible commercial tenants of city-owned properties, who are suffering financial distress due to COVID-19 (subject to application)
  • flexibility in the tender process and changes to the procurement policy, including an increase in the tender threshold to $250,00
  • undertaking a fast-tracked $8.85 million capital works and major maintenance program throughout the city 

City of Swan COVID-19 stimulus package

Local governments T-Z

Victoria Park

The Town of Victoria Park has launched a new section on their website for business support, advice and information during COVID-19. In addition, the town has launched a #StillOpenForBusiness campaign, featuring a directory of local businesses that are still open for takeaways/delivery or are providing services online or over the phone.

Town of Victoria Park COVID-19 information

Vincent

The City of Vincent has introduced immediate relief measures for businesses, including a buy local promotional campaign, changes to car parking to support take away and home delivery services, and waiving interest on all outstanding rates and suspending new debt collection activities

The City will also introduce development approval exemptions for change of use until 31 December 2020, refund cancelled bookings at city venues, and pay creditors within two weeks.

City of Vincent COVID-19 Small Business Support

Wanneroo

The City of Wanneroo has been working to assist local businesses through COVID-19 by:

  • offering rent abatement to lessees of city premises
  • prioritising capital works projects
  • paying local contractors within one week, where possible
  • committing to a ‘buy local’ approach by including a local economic benefit weighting in quotation and tender evaluation criteria
  • launching the #SupportWannerooLocal campaign with an online map listing, social media activity and sharing the stories of local businesses that have adapted to the environment
  • encouraging businesses to benefit from a range of free local opportunities including registering with the North West Metro Localised business to business platform, booking an online security review, searching for available grants and funding with Wanneroo Funding Finder, and accessing various business advisory services.

City of Wanneroo COVID-19 business support

More information

Local government is one of the three levels of government in Australia working together to combat the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic. Find out about other government and financial support packages in response to COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information is received from local government authorities.

If you are representative of a local government in Western Australia that has created small business support initiatives in response to COVID-19, please contact media@smallbusiness.wa.gov.au with details.

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