Across Australia, businesses from sole traders to medium-sized ventures have been impacted by the effects of coronavirus. For many, the ripple effect of this virus has impacted the ability to generate an income, writes Sonica Gibson.
With lockdown regulations halting trade across the country, the people running these businesses are stressed, scared and frustrated as they face a loss of income, having to lay off staff and the painful reality of financial hardship. The effects of a pandemic stretch far beyond being a mere health crisis; we are facing an economic crisis too. With changes occuring at a rapid pace, and JobKeeper off the table, businesses from micro to medium want to know what assistance there is for them to help them survive.
State governments are scrambling to put in place grants and other financial support to help local businesses get through the latest lockdowns. h
Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of government support.
New South Wales support options
From week 4, the JobSaver program will take over for businesses that fall into this turnover range. Employing businesses will receive payments equal to 40% for their weekly payroll in NSW, with a minimum payment of $1,500 and a maximum payment of $100,000 per week, while non-employing businesses will receive $1,000 per week.
For businesses with a turnover of between $30,000 and $75,000 the Covid-19 Micro-Business Grant is available. This is a payment of $1,500 per fortnight to eligible businesses.
To be eligible for support businesses will need to show a decline in turnover of 30% or more.
In response to the lockdown announced on 31 July 2021, the Queensland Government has announced the 2021 COVID-19 Business Support Grant of $5,000 for businesses with a turnover of more than $75,000 and annual Queensland payroll of up to $10 million. Eligible businesses will need to show a decline in turnover of at least 30% as a result of the lockdown.
Queensland also has the Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grant Program. Small businesses can apply for up to $10,000 to help adapt and sustain business operations, sustain employment and build resilience. This grant is now closed for South East Queensland; they are only accepting applications for regional Queensland (until 6 August 2021).
You will find numerous other industry specific assistance packages on the Queensland Government’s assistance finder.
South Australian options
In South Australia there is also a COVID-19 Business Support Grant (July 2021 SA). The Grant of $3,000 is available to South Australian GST registered businesses with a turnover of $75,000 or more and an Australian wide payroll of less than $10 million (2019-20 financial year) who suffered a decline in turnover of 30% or more as a result of the COVID-19 health restrictions for the week 20 July to 26 July 2021 (compared to the prior week). Non-employing businesses are also eligible for the grant.
Furthermore, South Australia has a Covid-19 Support Fund but it is not available to all businesses; it is targeted towards recovery in certain sectors and across the economy. This includes:
- Fee relief for liquor licence holders
- Tax relief (payroll and land tax)
- Financial support to hre and maintain apprentices
- Loans for established arts and entertainment businesses
You can read more directly on the website, HERE.
The new support programs available in Victoria are:
- Business Continuity Fund: will provide grants of up to $5,000 for businesses that remain impacted by the public health restrictions across 24 eligible sectors. An additional $2,000 will be available to businesses located in the CBD which are impacted by the restrictions on the number of staff allowed in office buildings. To receive this funding, businesses must have received or be eligible for the Business Cost Assistance Program Round Two.
- Business Cost Assistance Program: is a grant of $4,800 for businesses in eligible sectors. Businesses must be GST registered with a 2019-20 Victorian payroll of less than $10 million.
- Small Business COVID Hardship Fund: Small businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 if they have had a decline in revenue of 70% or more.
As at the time of writing the full guidelines had not been released.
The Victorian government has lots of support for businesses, especially for those in the events space. Learn more about it HERE. Then there are also opportunities for rebates on selected digital products for small businesses as well as tax relief and loans for established arts and entertainment businesses. Learn more HERE.
What’s available in Western Australia
WA has a number of helpful financial relief measures in place. For example, in the business sector, the highlights of benefits for SMEs include:
- a one-off $2500 credit on electricity bills for small businesses
- no utility disconnections or charging of interest on deferred electricity payments
- waiving licence fees for businesses in industries such as hospitality, tourism, retail and building trades
- waiving liquor licence renewal fees for 2020, with refunds provided to businesses that have already paid
- increasing the payroll tax exemption threshold to $1 million from 1 July 2020
- providing a one-off grant of $17,500 to businesses with a reconciled 2018-19 Australia-wide payroll of between $1 million and $4 million
- waiving payroll tax for 4 months from 1 March to 30 June 2020, for businesses with an Australia-wide payroll of less than $7.5 million
you can read the comprehensive list (which is quite impressive) HERE.
Tasmania offers a fair amount of industry-specific assistance, especially for those in the transport industry and the fisheries. However, there are also other resources that provide business advice and assist those that find themselves jobless due to lockdown. These are the highlights:
- Business Vehicle Registration Relief Package – There are various loans and outreach programs for businesses, including the freezing of vehicle registrations (for free) for up to 12 months. To see what else there is, visit the official site
- Fisheries Assistance – Licence holders in some Tasmanian wild capture fisheries can apply for benefits
- Rapid Response Skills Initiative – The Rapid Response Skills Initiative (RRSI) provides up to $3,000 towards the cost of training for people who have lost their jobs
- Business Growth Loan Scheme – Loans from $20,000 to $3 million are available for eligible businesses and new projects.
ACT & Northern Territory support
The ACT has support available to the tourism and hospitality industries, in addition to payroll tax exemptions on apprentices and trainees. Further details are HERE.
While there are currently no support packages available in the Northern Territory.
Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment
This relief payment comes as a lump sum for each 14 day period you need to self-isolate, quarantine or care for someone. This is for individuals. You must be directed to self-isolate or quarantine by a health official. They need to give you these directions for any of the following reasons:
- you have coronavirus (COVID-19)
- you’ve been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19
- you care for a child, 16 years or under, who has COVID-19
- you care for a child, 16 years or under, who’s been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19.
- you’re at least 17 years old and live in Queensland
- you’re an Australian resident or hold a visa that gives you the right to work in Australia
- you’re unable to go to work and earn an income
- you have no appropriate leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave, personal leave or leave to care for another person
- Your period of quarantine is after 7 October 2020.
Call Services Australia on 180 22 66 or print and complete the Claim for Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment form (for your state) and fax it to 1300 727 760. Learn more about who qualifies for this payment HERE.
Covid-19 Disaster Payment
This is a lump sum payment to help workers unable to earn income due to a COVID-19 state public health order. This may involve a lockdown, hotspot or movement restrictions.
This is for individuals who:
- Are an Australian resident or hold a visa that gives you the right to work in Australia
- Are 17 years or older
- Are not getting an income support payment, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Dad and Partner Pay or Parental Leave Pay
- Are not getting the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, a state or territory pandemic payment or a state small business payment for the same period
- Have lost hours of work and income due to a lockdown in your state and don’t have any appropriate paid leave entitlements.
The amount of the payments range from $325 to $750 per week and depend upon the dates of the lockdown and the number of hours of work lost.
Currently, these payments are available to people residing in:
- New South Wales
- Queensland (recently announced)
- South Australia
You can find out more HERE.
Other Federal Assistance
In addition to the assistance provided to individuals the Federal Government still has on offer:
- Instant asset write-off. Read about it HERE.
- JobMaker Hiring Credit: Read about it HERE.
- Boosting apprenticeship commencements: Read about it HERE.
This is a rapidly changing situation with restrictions and assistance being updated almost daily. We have done our best to provide you with the most up to date information, however, there is no guarantee that something hasn’t changed between the time this was written and the time it was published. I encourage you to familiarise yourself with your state government’s Covid-19 business page.
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