What is the COVID-19 LRCI Program?
The COVID-19 LRCI (Local Roads and Community Infrastructure) Program is a grant opportunity to assist a community-led recovery from COVID-19 by supporting local jobs, firms, and procurement. It expected that councils will use local businesses and workforces to deliver projects under the LRCI Program where possible to ensure stimulus funding flows into local communities.
The LRCI Program will run from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2021, with projects required to be physically completed by 30 June 2021. The Program was announced as part of the Australian Government’s wider economic response to COVID-19.
The scope of the LRCI Program supports a broad range of Eligible Projects so communities can fund the infrastructure that they need, support businesses and create employment opportunities across their communities.
The objective of the LRCI Program is to stimulate additional infrastructure construction activity in local communities across Australia to assist communities to manage the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The intended outcomes of the LRCI Program are to:
- provide stimulus to protect and create localshort-term employment opportunities through funded projects following the impacts of the COVID-19; and
- deliver benefits to communities, such as improved road safety, accessibility and visual amenity.
The Australian Government has announced a total of $500 million for the LRCI Program. Funding is available from July 2020.
Eligible Funding Recipients will receive a grant amount called a ‘Nominal Funding Allocation’.
The formula used to calculate a Nominal Funding Allocation has been modelled on funding allocations under the Roads to Recovery Program (R2R) and the local road component of the Financial Assistance Grants Program. The formula used to determine a state/territory’s share of funding under the LRCI Program follows the same state/territory allocation process as these programs. Within a state/territory’s share of funding, the calculation of each Eligible Funding Recipient’s Nominal Funding Allocation has been derived based on recommendations from the relevant Local Government Grants Commission, and takes into consideration factors such as population estimates, and road length in each local governing body area. This is similar to how individual shares of R2R funding and local road component of the Financial Assistance Grant Program is calculated.
The formula has been consistently applied to determine the Nominal Funding Allocation of each Eligible Funding Recipient under the LRCI Program. Co-contributions are not required under the LRCI Program, but Eligible Funding Recipients may expend their own funds on Eligible Projects.
Eligible local road projects are projects that involve the construction or maintenance of roads managed by local governments. Local governments are encouraged to consider how works can support improved road safety outcomes. This could include projects involving any of the following associated with a road:
- traffic signs;
- traffic control equipment;
- street lighting equipment;
- a bridge or tunnel;
- a facility off the road used by heavy vehicles in connection with travel on the road (for example, a rest area or weigh station);
- facilities off the road that support the visitor economy; and
- road and sidewalk maintenance, where additional to normal capital works schedules.
Eligible community infrastructure projects are projects that involve the construction, maintenance and/or improvements to council-owned assets (including natural assets) that are generally accessible to the public.
Projects that involve the construction, maintenance and/or improvements to state/territory and crown owned land/assets and Commonwealth owned land/assets, can also be eligible projects where the Council can confirm that they have the authority of the land or asset owner to undertake the project at the nominated site(s) and the sites are accessible to the public (including natural assets).
These projects must deliver benefits to the community, such as improved accessibility, visual amenity, and/or safety. Examples of eligible works include:
- Closed Circuit TV (CCTV);
- bicycle and walking paths;
- painting or improvements to community facilities;
- repairing and replacing fencing;
- improved accessibility of community facilities and areas;
- landscaping improvements, such as tree planting and beautification of roundabouts;
- picnic shelters or barbeque facilities at community parks;
- playgrounds and skate parks (including all ability playgrounds);
- noise and vibration mitigation measures; and
- off-road car parks (such as those at sporting grounds or parks).
To be considered an Eligible Project, projects need to be additional to an Eligible Funding Recipient’s existing work plan for 2020-21. Projects that have been brought forward from post 2020-21 work plans will be considered additional.
Construction activity on Eligible Projects must be undertaken between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021, subject to the following exceptions:
- Where an Eligible Funding Recipient contributes at least fifty per cent towards the total cost of a project. Construction activity on a project may be undertaken until 30 June 2022 as long as the Australian Government’s contribution covers the cost of construction activity to 30 June 2021, and all other Eligible Project requirements are met.
- Where agreed by the Department due to exceptional circumstances.
If construction activity cannot be completed during between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021, an Eligible Funding Recipient may not receive their full Nominal Funding Allocation.
The Eligible Funding Recipients for this grant program have been identified. They are:
- all local councils in Australia:
- the ACT Government in lieu of a system of local government;
- relevant state government, the shires of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island and the Lord Howe Island Board that provide local council services to ‘unincorporated areas’ in Australia;
- the NT Government for areas that were unincorporated until 2008 but are yet to transferred to the new councils; and
- the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for the French Island.
The Eligible Funding Recipients have been selected for this grant opportunity as the intention is to fund local communities directly. By providing funding to the level of Government closest to communities, the Australian Government can ensure that the economic boost is felt throughout every community across Australia. Further, by allowing councils to select projects to be undertaken (within a specified framework), local governments will be able to deliver projects in line with prioritie