‘Dud’ voucher scheme rolls out in full

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Shadow business minister Leanne Castley.

A DISCOUNT voucher scheme, aimed to encourage local spending, is being rolled out in full next month despite its trial being declared a “dud” earlier this year. 

The ACT government’s “ChooseCBR” voucher scheme, designed to reinvigorate Canberra’s economy post-covid, was trialled in December and has since copped criticism from the Canberra Liberals over its low up-take, and for being too complicated.

Only $370,000 of the $500,000 in vouchers were redeemed and about one in every eight adults – or 47,733 residents – signed up.

“The ChooseCBR trial was a dud with only 336 businesses signing up yet a staggering $123,000 wasted on admin costs,” said shadow business minister Leanne Castley.

Details of the revamped scheme were announced by the ACT government today (May 18) and include $2 million dollars worth of digital vouchers, available from June 9.

Four-thousand businesses can sign up and the highest discount voucher available has doubled since the trial, with Canberrans able to claim up to $50 off their purchase when they spend at least $100.

Business Minister Tara Cheyne, who stood by the trial scheme when it was criticised, said changes have been made to make it easier for businesses to participate.

We have removed the JobKeeper criterion but left the eligible business types unchanged to ensure the program continues to be available to a broad cross section of our local small business community,” Ms Cheyne said.

“So, if your business operates in the ACT, has less than $10 million in annual turnover and is in the hospitality, retail, accommodation, personal services or the arts and recreation sectors, you are eligible to participate.”

Despite welcoming some of the changes, Ms Castley said the scheme will do little to help businesses outside the CBD.

“How will ChooseCBR be promoted outside the CBD to help struggling businesses in places like Gungahlin and Tuggeranong?” Ms Castley said.

“Only seven small businesses in Gungahlin signed up for the ChooseCBR trial, which shows how bad it was.”

Small businesses will be able to sign up to the scheme online tomorrow.


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