Australia’s small and medium businesses are the engine room of our economy. When they hurt, we all hurt. We need to help businesses keep going as best as they can and for as long as they can, or to pause instead of closing down. We want to see Australian businesses bounce back after we get through this current crisis.
NSW GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC PACKAGE – STAGE 2
Components of the NSW government’s economic package announced on 27 March aim to help businesses and keep people in jobs.
Businesses with payrolls of $10 million or less will receive an additional three months deferral of payroll tax (six months in total).
A $1 billion Working for NSW fund will be created to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees. Service NSW is recruiting 1,000 temporary team members to complement its existing workforce. If you are an individual looking for work, or an impacted business with staff now looking for work, register your interest online.
NSW government business advice
Employee rights and workplace responsibilities to help business owners manage the impact of the COVID-19 are listed on the NSW Government website. Information includes:
Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 can call the Business Helpline on 13 28 46.
Call-out to local manufacturers to fill gaps in medical supplies
The NSW government is calling on manufacturers in NSW to help fill gaps in the global supply of medical equipment and hygiene products.
A new portal has been established for companies to offer to build parts or supply eight urgently needed items during the COVID-19 crisis - hand sanitiser, handwash soap, gloves, cleaning products, protective clothing, masks, eyewear and paper products.
If you have the ability to convert production lines into making the items desperately needed, register your interest through the COVID-19 Emergency Supplies registration portal.
MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING
The outbreak of COVID-19 impacts people in different ways and it is completely understandable that some may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage.
The Australian Government Department of Health’s Head to Health website has a dedicated section dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978
Headspace on 1800 650 890
FEDERAL BUSINESS SUPPORT PACKAGE
On 22 March 2020, the federal government released the second stage of its economic plan to keep Australians in jobs, keep small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in business and support households and the Australian economy as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
Up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000; to help with rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
Employers will receive a payment equal to 100% of their salary and wages withheld, with a maximum payment of $50,000. The minimum payment will be $10,000. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020. The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.
SMEs with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible.
An additional payment will be made from 28 July 2020, where eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received.
Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme
A Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will be established to enable SMEs to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the COVID-19. The government will guarantee 50% of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.
The government’s support will enhance lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit to SMEs, with the Scheme able to support $40 billion of lending to SMEs.
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
The threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive will be temporarily increased. There will also be temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise due to the COVID-19.
Early superannuation release
Individuals in financial stress due to the COVID-19 will be allowed to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020, and then access a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months. They will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Eligibility to income support payments will be temporarily expanded and a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement established, to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next 6 months. Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.
Increased Instant Asset Write-Off
The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million). This applies from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020, for new or secondhand assets first used or installed ready for use in this timeframe.
Backing Business Investment
A time limited 15-month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. This applies to eligible assets acquired from 12 March 2020 and first used or installed by 30 June 2021. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.
Assistance to help pay the wages of apprentices or trainees
Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
JobKeeper package for businesses
The federal government’s JobKeeper package is a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight per employee and will be delivered via the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Available to staff that have been stood down since 1 March and staff that continue to work. Small businesses that have experienced a decline in turnover of 30% or more are eligible.
To register your interest and for updates on the package, visit the ATO website. The ATO will contact you as soon as more information is available.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regularly updates it Coronavirus webpage with essential information about tax and superannuation changes that are now law under the government’s Economic Support Package.
If you are impacted by COVID-19 and require immediate assistance, contact the ATO on its Emergency Support Infoline – 1800 806 218.
HEALTH POSTERS FOR BUSINESSES
The Australian Department of Health has developed four posters for small businesses to alert customers to changed hours, temporary changes, temporary closure, good hygiene practices.
The Australian Government has a dedicated COVID-19 website containing regularly updated essential Coronavirus news and advice from government agencies across Australia.
Business financial support line
If your small business has been affected by the bushfires, free help is available from a financial counsellor through the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line 1800 413 828.
Small business financial counsellors that are part of this service are qualified professionals who provide advice to small business owners and sole traders in financial difficulty. Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential.
Energy hardship relief
Many energy retailers will offer some form of Financial Hardship Support that can involve deferred billing and partial payment plans.
We advise you contact your supplier straight away to discuss alternative payment options. They should be able to explain your options, such as:
Banks' relief package for small businesses
The Australian Banking Association says banks will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months.
The small business relief package will apply to more than $100 billion of existing small business loans and depending on customer take up, could put as much as $8 billion back into the pockets of small businesses as they battle through these difficult times.
Banks are putting in place a fast track approval process and are actively reaching out to their customers to offer assistance. Any small business who has not already been contacted should contact their bank to apply.
Telecos helping small businesses
With so many of us working from home, some telecommunication providers are helping us stay connected during this trying time by offering free additional data and suspending late payment fees. They also have some messages about customer support.
Contact your telco supplier for more information.