May 25, 2020
The funding will help provide local jobs and local investment directly benefiting the struggling small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in communities all around Australia.

Michael McCormack – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and Mark Coulton – Minister for Local Government recently announced 537 local councils across Australia will benefit from $1.8 billion in funds from July 1 to help accelerate local projects and stimulate employment.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also added that local governments were playing a critical role in responding to the impacts of COVID 19.

“Our funding boost will help councils accelerate priority projects that will employ locally and support local business and also stimulating our economy,” the Prime Minister said.


HOW THE FUNDING WILL BE ALLOCATED

$1.3 billion of the total $1.8 billion will be used to bring forward federal assistance grants to local councils, with a further $500 million to be a stimulus package for local roads, local community infrastructure and a community-led recovery.

Business NSW infrastructure policy manager, Simon Moore said: “Funding for low-key activities like improving street lights or signs might not get the political attention of bigger, higher-profile projects, but they are vital for making our infrastructure work.

"They’re the kinds of things you only notice when they’re missing. Every council will have plans for this type of work. This funding injection should enable councils to keep moving works forward during the coming year while council budgets will be tightening.”


WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR SMALL BUSINESS

The announcement will be welcomed by small business against the backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic trading restrictions and social distancing measures.

Mr McCormack stated, "When we directly fund that form of government [local government], the money can hit the ground the quickest, hit the ground the easiest".

Local Council Minister Mark Coulton added that the package will boost local jobs and enable local councils to “oversee programs that will employ local people who have found themselves out of work because of the COVID-19 crisis."

"Each and every one of the local government areas right across the nation will benefit from this," Mr McCormack added.


WHO WILL BENEFIT?

More than 400 Local Councils submitted their advice to the Federal Government earlier in 2020 with regards to the projects they felt they should be able to fund.

With a focus on improving local road safety the construction and trade industry is poised to benefit most as projects could range from local street lighting and signage to constructing and improving local bridges and tunnels and refurbishing town halls.

Councils will be able to invest their share of the $500 million funds to projects which could range from improving CCTV, parks and playgrounds, lighting and signage, to constructing and improving local bridges and tunnels.

Contractors and suppliers to local councils will be helped by the announcement, which will be welcome news for the construction industry facing a looming decline in residential housing build.


WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES

The guidelines for the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program will be sent to local governments by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Allocations under the Financial Assistance Grant and Local Road and Community Infrastructure programs can be found here.


NEED MORE INFORMATION ON WORKING WITH LOCAL COUNCILS?

If your business doesn't already engage with your local council, you will need to follow the formal procurement procedures relevant to your Local Government Area in order to be considered for project work.

This article was originally published on Business Australia and can be viewed here.