Reprieve for Pavel following business closure

Pavel’s business was affected by COVID-19 lockdowns and he applied for a grant through the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund.

It took some time for the (then) Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions to assess his application, partly because of discrepancies in his business registration details. For almost 10 weeks, while Pavel’s business was not operating, the Department did not contact him about his application.

Ultimately Pavel closed the doors to his business for good.

Pavel’s grant application was denied as his business was no longer operating when Business Victoria assessed it.

The Department’s delay was not the only cause of Pavel’s business closure.

Pavel complained to the Ombudsman, telling us he had no choice but to close his business due to the significant financial hardship he was experiencing as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. He argued he would not have had to close his business if his application had been processed in a timely manner and he had received the financial support that the grant was designed to provide.

The Ombudsman made enquiries with the Department which initially said that the $3,500 grant would not have been enough to allow Pavel to keep his business open.

However, the original grant of $3,500 was not the only funding available. Eligible businesses received subsequent top-up payments amounting to over $30,500. We noted that that amount of money would certainly have had a greater impact on Pavel’s ability to keep his business afloat.

In response, the Department agreed to approve the original grant plus the top-up payments Pavel’s business would have been eligible for, equating to over $30,500.

While Pavel was not in a position to reopen the business, the grant money helped cover a number of unpaid debts that arose while his business was not operating.