The Federal Nationals in Government have committed more than $4.7 million to provide small regional businesses affected by COVID-19 with access to free and confidential financial counselling.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack said the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) could support hundreds of regional small businesses.

“This announcement is another step forward in regional Australia’s economic recovery from this pandemic, with more investment in industries and businesses hardest hit,” Mr McCormack said.

“The service will also create jobs for small business financial counsellors and support workers.

“This builds on our previously announced support for regional aviation and air freight, export industries, the arts industry and tourism businesses.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the funding would help eligible small businesses access the immediate advice and assistance they need to keep afloat and navigate the road to recovery.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our regional communities and we know that many are struggling through drought and trying to recover from this season’s devastating bushfires,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This measure is designed to ensure that businesses remain resilient through the COVID-19 downturn and are able to rebound when normal trading conditions resume.

“This funding is in addition to the $7 million already provided for small business financial counselling services in drought-affected communities.”

The funding is part of the Government’s focus on keeping businesses viable, Australians in jobs and supporting the national economy.

There are more than 3.5 million small businesses across the country, they are the backbone of our economy and a key part of our COVID-19 recovery. This announcement builds on a comprehensive suite of existing support measures that encourage economic growth in impacted regions.

The funding is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund, which is delivering targeted assistance to regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

More information on the fund is available at https://www.regional.gov.au/regional/programs/covid-19-relief-and-recovery-fund.aspx.