Business boosters – the complete guide to COVID-19 business support measures
Do we dare to dream?
Is it time for us to be cautiously optimistic?
After what seems like an eternity (longer if you have school-aged children learning from home), it appears there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Australia has emerged as a global poster child for how to deal with COVID-19. Restrictions are slowly starting to lift, and like bears in spring, were cautiously emerging from our enforced hibernation.
However, this is not the time to get ahead of ourselves. We are by no means out of the woods yet. The virus has not gone away and will remain a persistent threat until a vaccine or cure arrives
The business world is starting to count its bruises. The prospect of getting back to work is encouraging, but huge numbers are still closed and may not be able to reopen for some time to come. The enormous economic impact and the persistent spectre of another outbreak will likely mean it will take some time for the economy to get back to normal.
In recent posts, we provided some insights into how virtual and serviced offices can help businesses manage through the COVID-19 crisis. That’s all well and good, but if your business has been pushed to the edge, you may need an external lifeline to stay afloat.
Fortunately, Governments have stepped up to the plate. Most of us are familiar with at least some of the measures implemented on the Federal level. However, if you’re a business owner or manager, you may be relieved to know that state and local governments are also answering the call in this time of need. Navigating the maze can be more than a little bit confusing, so we figured we’d make things somewhat simpler for you with this summary:
The government’s flagship policy has not been without its problems. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to deny that $130 billion distributed to an estimated 6 million Australians is a much-needed injection.
What: Fortnightly pre-tax payments of $1500 per worker paid to employers to subsidise lost wages.
Who: JobKeeper Payment is available to the following Companies:
And for the Following Employees:
How: You can apply for the JobKeeper payment via the ATO website. Take care, however. Eligibility and other details may change from time to time, so make sure you have the most up-to-date information before applying.
Funds are available for small-medium sized businesses to help them meet immediate expenses, keep staff employed and stay afloat.
What: Staged payments totalling up to $100,000 available each quarter. Funds are intended to help cover bills such as rent, utilities and other costs. The first boost was made available in April, and the next payments will be sometime between June to September. Amount of the payment is based on the previous year’s turnover and employee tax withholdings.
Who: Payments are available as follows:
How: These payments are calculated automatically by the ATO.
A subsidy is provided to small employers to help them retain apprentices and trainees that they would otherwise have had to let go.
What: Wage subsidy of up to 50% of the apprentice or trainee’s salary paid between January 1 and September 30 this year.
Who: Recipients must meet the following criteria:
The government has made it easier for small and medium-sized business to access emergency loans to help them manage through the economic lull.
What: Under the SME Guarantee Scheme, the government will guarantee up to 50% of loans made by enrolled financial institutions to businesses impacted by Coronavirus. This measure covers loans under the following criteria:
Who: SMEs with turnover less than $50 Million can access these loans through participating institutions. Additionally, the government has provided exemptions from the Fair Lending Act for qualifying institutions so that struggling businesses can receive funds faster and more easily.
How: Talk to your lender to determine whether they are one of the more than 40 lenders participating in the scheme. Please keep in mind that the decision to provide finance remains with the lender, so standard risk assessment procedures will still be in effect.
In addition to the SME Guarantee Scheme, the government has instructed lenders that the fair lending act is temporarily suspended for their existing borrowers. This will make the process of accessing finance significantly quicker and easier. So, if you have a current finance arrangement, speak to your lender.
The wheels of commerce must keep turning. To encourage organisations to continue investing in growth, several incentives have been introduced.
What: Until June, you can write off 50% of the value of investments of up to $150,000 in depreciable assets such as machinery, vehicles and others. This will ensure that your business can reap a significant tax advantage for the current financial year
Who: Companies with turnover of less than $500 million can claim the expanded depreciation on new and second-hand capital equipment and machinery that is installed or first used by June 30 of this year.
How: Speak to you accountant when preparing your FY 2020 corporate taxes.
Victoria’s state government has been pro-active in introducing a range of additional measures that can be of great assistance to local businesses. In conjunction with the federal policies detailed above, they represent a considerable lifeline, particularly for small businesses struggling to stay afloat, and their employees.
The state’s two flagships measures are as follows:
This measure is an extension of the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper package. It provides a total of $500 million for additional one-off grants to those businesses in sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
What: $10,000 grants for the most highly affected businesses to use for costs such as rent, wages, utilities and other essential activities.
Who: To be eligible for the BSF, you must be:
How: Applications can be completed at the Business Victoria website. However, you will need to be quick as they close on Monday, June 1. The Victorian Chamber of Commerce, Australian Hotels Association and the Australian Industry Group are partnering with the State Government to distribute the funds.
An innovative program that allows workers who have lost their jobs due to Coronavirus to utilise their skills for State Government enterprises.
What: An online platform on which displaced workers can register their skills and job preference, and be matched with employment opportunities at registered employees.
Who: Any worker impacted by the pandemic can join the site. Any employee looking to connect with qualified candidates for open positions can post on the site.
How: Simply visit www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria to sign up.
Other measures instituted by the State Government include:
Not to be outdone, Our Fair City is offering further support for resident businesses to boost the local economy.
The City set aside $5 million worth of grants for SMEs and NFPs in the Melbourne. These grants were available for specific purposes, and the size of the allowance varies depending on the intended use.
What: The following grants are available:
How: Applications for this grant have now closed. However, as less than half of the designated funds were distributed, businesses still affected should contact the City of Melbourne’s COVID-19 Business Concierge line on 9658-9658 to discuss what options remain available.
However difficult this experience has been for all of us, it’s incredibly comforting to see how we have come together as a community to support each other during an unprecedented crisis. As we head towards what we hope will be a normalised economic environment, those hit hard by this pandemic can and should take advantage of the available assistance.
As you can see, many of the items listed above deal with commercial property and rents. If you’re rethinking where and how you operate, perhaps now would be a great time to give APSO a call today. We’re always happy to chat and see whether one of our outstanding serviced office, or virtual office solutions can help you weather the storm. We don’t require any lock-in contracts, so if you find yourself needing to make alternative arrangements in the short term, we’re here to help.