The Flemish government has announced a new set of measures to help businesses through the health crisis with grants of up to €2 million.
The last set of support measures was for the duration of the last quarter of 2020, and needs renewing as the situation continues unabated into 2021. Businesses who had lost income of 60% or more because of the crisis measures could claim a grant worth 10% of their income in the same period in 2019, with a ceiling of €60,000 for one and a half months.
For those businesses most hard-hit, the new measures take account of the last three quarters of the year. Those who have suffered a 70% loss of income over the period can now claim 10% of their income for the whole of 2019, with a ceiling of €1 million, depending on the number of employees.
For the worst cases with 90% losses, the ceiling is raised to €2 million.
Grants already received under the previous rounds will be deduced from the final total.
For those with losses of 60-70%, who are not eligible for the new grants, the previous system will be extended for two months. And the number of inspectors charged with battling fraud in applications will be increased by ten.
“I am thinking in particular of the events sector,” said economy minister Hilde Crevits (CD&V). “There is an enormous amount of human capital there. It is crucial that we keep those employees in the industry.”
At the same time, health and welfare minister Wouter Beke (CD&V) announced new investment of €12 million in mental health and well-being.
An announcement nobody was expecting came from minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA), who is also responsible for culture.
He announced the start of preparation for a new Flemish arts decree, featuring a new subsidy policy to ensure more financial stability in the sector, and more attention to individual artists.
“And less red tape, so that artists can spend their time being creative,” he said.
Most importantly, he announced the launch from 21 January of a new cultural broadcaster, named Podium-19, which will be carried on the VRT’s online channel VRT.NU, as well as Proximus and Telenet.
The broadcaster is a joint initiative by the Flemish government and the seven main Flemish cultural institutions: deSingel in Antwerp, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, the Brussels Philharmonic (formerly the Flemish Radio Orchestra), Kunsthuis (incorporating Opera Vlaanderen and Ballet Vlaanderen), Ancienne Belgique, Vooruit arts centre in Ghent and the Concertgebouw theatre in Bruges.
More details, and the channel’s broadcast schedule, will be made known in January.