Flood recovery mired in grant funds red tape: councils

·2-min read

Flood-hit Victorian councils say their recovery is being slowed down by the difficult process to apply for state and federal disaster funds.

Campaspe, Buloke, Gannawarra, Loddon and Swan Hill councils say state and federal recovery funding has been caught up in red tape.

"Many of our concerns relate to the complexity and constraints associated with funding systems and processes," Campaspe Shire mayor Rob Amos said in a statement.

"Other concerns relate to uncertainty about whether requested funding to repair the full scope of damaged assets will be honoured and provided in a timely fashion."

The councils criticised an initial ambiguity about recovery funding levels, timeliness, and that applications for disaster recovery funding arrangements could only be made in $500,000 increments, even for projects running into the tens of millions of dollars.

"This kind of red tape only takes council staff resources away from where they are needed and hampers the ability of councils to manage flood recovery efficiently and effectively," Mr Amos said.

In January, the Albanese government launched an independent inquiry into disaster funding arrangements and encouraged affected councils to contribute.

A federal government spokesman said it had launched an independent inquiry into disaster funding arrangements and encouraged councils to contribute their feedback directly.

The inquiry is due to report back in 2024.

"In the meantime, the National Emergency Management Agency is working directly with councils to ensure they are given the correct information about what is on offer and how to claim," the spokesman said.

The calls come as a program opened to business groups in flood-affected communities, offering $20,000 or $50,000 for projects to support small businesses.

Part of the $877 million recovery support package announced last year, the program is jointly funded by the state and federal governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said the grants would be invaluable to businesses trying to get back on their feet.

"Local business is the lifeblood of community and the Albanese government will continue to work with the Andrews government to provide support to those affected," Mr Watt said in a statement.

Victorian Emergency Services Minister Jaclyn Symes said the state government continued to work with flood-affected communities to support a local-led recovery.

"Small businesses are some of the first to put themselves forward to help their communities recover whilst being affected themselves," Ms Symes said.

Meanwhile, Victoria's State Emergency Service is looking for a new chief executive after Stephen Griffin announced he would be stepping down from the role.