The Victorian Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund is now open to brewers with producers licences only according to the latest from the Independent Brewers Association.
It emerged earlier that this month that the $251 million Fund, aimed at venues in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria which had been hit hard by the strict COVID-19 lockdowns, was not accessible to breweries which did not also hold a general or late night, club, restaurant and cafe liquor licence.
The welcome U-turn from the state government comes after a battle from the brewers’ organisation and industry to raise the profile of the issue, leading to Premier Dan Andrews being questioned about it at a press conference.
IBA general manager Kylie Lethbridge, who along with other IBA members has been spearheading the move to put pressure on the state government, said it was a major win.
“This is fantastic news for indie brewers and we would like to applaud the state government for their response to our requests and for seeing the anomaly for what it was, simply an oversight,” she said.
“Our members have done it tough this year so access to funding will be a huge relief and will enable them to breathe a little easier as they focus on reopening and welcoming back their customers.
“So, a big thank you to the Premier and his team for hearing our cries and for allowing Victorians to get back on the beers in their favourite venue.”
Despite the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions saying that fund allocation was not means-tested, it reasoned that breweries with production licences may have been able to sell off-premise during the COVID period, indicating that this was why the fund had not been inclusive of them.
“We know that breweries have experienced a reduction in revenue due to coronavirus restrictions but unlike pubs, many have been able to continue to wholesale and retail their products,” a DJPR spokesperson said at the time.
Update: Minister for Business Support and Recovery Martin Pakula confirmed that holders of producer’s liquor licences that also hold a relevant food certificate will now be eligible for support under the program.
“We’ve listened to brewery businesses and acknowledged that the guidelines needed to change.
“This will help businesses across the state to consolidate and recover as we continue to steadily re-open the economy.
“I would encourage all businesses to head to the Business Victoria website to see what support is available to them.
“Breweries that hold a separate liquor licence in addition to a producers licence may be eligible for a grant through the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund.
“In addition, breweries that hold a food Certificate of Registration may be eligible for a $5,000 grant through the Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package.”
Find out more about the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund and how to apply here.