covid business support

Round two COVID-19 financial support – all you need to know

As some of the country starts to reopen and get back on track, other parts continue to operate under tight restrictions.

To help businesses through to the other side of the pandemic and bounce back stronger, the Government has announced another phase of targeted income support.

With this, we bring you a new rolling update with the latest financial support available. We have summarised it in an easy to consume guide so you can understand exactly what is available. We will continue to update this blog as more information is released.

We have been working with hundreds of businesses over the last few months to help them navigate and manage what support is available to them, and will continue to do so.

We are here to help. Times like these remind our team of the pivotal role we play. We strive to be your partner in success and provide peace of mind.

 

Updated 14 August 2020

 

Business Support Fund Expansion – $5,000 grants to support businesses through the renewed restrictions

To support Victorian businesses impacted by the re-introduced restrictions, one-off grants will be made available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program.

  • $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas
  • $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of spending longer under restrictions

HOW:

The Victorian Government has clarified that business are required to apply for the $5,000 expansion grant.

You will need the following for your application:

  • WorkCover employer number (if your wages are under $7,500 annually you may not have a WorkCover registration. We are seeking further clarification on this if you can still be eligible)
  • Utility bill (gas, electricity or water) or rates notice with proof business address
  • Latest JobKeeper monthly declaration

Regional businesses will need to meet all the eligibility criteria, to be eligible a business must:

  • be a participant in the JobKeeper Payment scheme
  • employ people and be registered with WorkSafe on 30 June 2020
  • have an annual payroll of less than $3 million in 2019-20
  • be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 30 June 2020
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020
  • be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator (ASIC, ACNC)

Eligible businesses in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire that have applied or have received an initial $5,000 under the Business Support Fund – Expansion will be eligible for an additional $5,000 grant without submitting a new application.

If you didn’t receive it during the first restrictions you may still be eligible to receive it this time round.

To apply visit: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package/business-support-fund

Applications close 14 September 2020.

If you need assistance we can help your business in applying. Contact us on 03 5443 0344.

 

Stage 3 & 4 restricted industries

With Melbourne and regional Victoria in Stage 3 and 4 restrictions, the Victorian government has outlined new restrictions and closures to a number of industries and business in Melbourne, which may in-turn, impact regional businesses in regards to supply chain, stock, etc.

Industry and business closures and restrictions under Stage 4 in Melbourne are summarised here.

For regional Victoria, the only additional measures to Stage 3 restrictions were for meatworks. This industry will be scaled back to two-thirds of production only and a number of COVIDSafe measures introduced.

 

$25,000 grant for hospitality businesses

The Hospitality Business Grant supports food services business that have been affected by the return to stage 3 and stage 4 restrictions.

Eligible businesses will be provided with a one-off $25,000 grant to pay for costs to support the continued operation of the business. An additional $5,000 is available for each additional premises located within metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, capped at a total of $20,000.

An additional $20,000 grant will also be available for eligible businesses with premises located in the following Melbourne CBD postcodes:

  • 3000 (Melbourne)
  • 3005 (World Trade Centre)
  • 3006 (SouthBank)
  • 3008 (Docklands).

To be eligible, your business must:

  • Have an annual payroll of greater than $3 million and lower than $10 million in 2019-2020.
  • Operate a business with premises located in Victoria
  • Operate a restaurant, cafe, pub, bar, club, reception centre, coffee and desert outlet or takeaway food venue that serves patrons and hold a Class 2 or 3 Service Sector – Certificate of Registration under the Food Act 1984 (Vic)
  • Hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at 30 June 2020
  • Be registered with the responsible Federal or State regulator.

HOW:

To apply for the grant, click here to fill out the online questionnaire.

 

JobKeeper Payment Extension 2.0

Following months of speculation the Government has announced the JobKeeper Program will be extended beyond September 2020, to March 2021.

It is important to note if you currently receive JobKeeper Payments it remains unchanged until 27 September 2020.

However, to receive the new JobKeeper Payments from 28 September 2020, the eligibility will be based on actual turnover change rather than projected change which was used when businesses first applied.

In brief:

  • From 28 September 2020 businesses will need to reapply and pass a new test to demonstrate a 30% turnover reduction. The new test will be based on actual GST turnover from June 2020 and September 2020 BAS versus actual GST turnover for June 2019 and September 2019 BAS.
  • From 28 September payment rates will drop and two tiers will be introduced:
    • dropping to $1,200 per fortnight, or
    • $750 per fortnight for employees working less than 20 hours a week
  • From 4 January 2021 payments drop again to:
    • $1,000 per fortnight, or
    • $650 for employees working less than 20 hours a week

We have explained all of the new changes in a 2.0 JobKeeper Payment blog on our website. Visit www.afsbendigo.com.au/jobkeeper-payment-2-0-need-know for more.

 

JobSeeker changes – COVID-19 supplement

The JobSeeker payment replaced the former Newstart unemployment payment when Coronavirus struck. At that time it effectively doubled the old Newstart rate, applying a $550 coronavirus supplement.

The latest updates include:

  • the payment period of this temporary Coronavirus Supplement extended 31 December 2020
  • the supplement will be reduced from $550 per fortnight to $250 per fortnight from 28 September 2020
  • Thresholds will be increased for those working, from earning $106 per fortnight to $300 per fortnight without impacting their payments

HOW:

JobSeeker is available for people between age 22 and the Age Pension who are looking for work, or if you’re sick or injured and can’t do your usual work or study temporarily.

People on JobSeeker will be required to apply for more jobs than required earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic and failure to take a job means people risk losing the payment.

From 25 September 2020, the assets test and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period will be reintroduced and the JobSeeker Payment partner income test will increase from 25 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $996 per fortnight to 27 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $1,165 per fortnight.

To find out if you are eligible visit: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment/how-claim

 

Pandemic leave disaster payment

Individuals in Victoria who are unable to work due to being told to quarantine or self-isolate can claim a $1,500 paid pandemic leave payment.

You may be eligible if you can’t work due to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services telling you to self-isolate or quarantine because:

  • you have 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, or
  • you care for a child, 16 years or under, who’s been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

To get the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment you must meet all of the following:

  • you’re at least 17 years old
  • you live in the state of Victoria
  • you are unable to work
  • you have no sick leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave.

You will not be eligible if you receive any income from paid work or already receive other Government financial support.

Individuals have until 4 February 2021 to claim the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

HOW:

The easiest way to apply is by phoning Services Australia on 180 22 66.

 

Early access to superannuation extended

Individuals wanting to apply for the early release of up to $10,000 in superannuation have been given extra time to do so, the government has announced in its economic update. The application period of the scheme will be extended to 31 December 2020 from the original deadline of 24 September.

You will not pay tax on the money you access and withdrawals will not affect Centrelink or veterans’ payments.

HOW:

To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

  • you are unemployed
  • you are eligible to receive a JobSeeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment, special benefit or farm household allowance
  • or on or after 1 January 2020:
    • you were made redundant
    • your working hours were reduced by 20% or more
    • you are a sole trader – your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.
Second round of cash flow boosts

It’s time to start preparing for the second round of the Federal Government’s cash flow boosts for businesses and not-for-profit organisations. The second cash flow boost will be paid in equal instalments from June to September 2020, up to $50,000 upon lodgement of your activity statements.

HOW:

If you received the first cash flow boost, you will automatically receive the second when you lodge your activity statements.

For full details on how you can receive it see our blog:
www.afsbendigo.com.au/second-cash-flow-boost

 

New Victorian business support stimulus

The Victorian Government has reinstated restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to slow recently growing community spread of COVID-19. To assist businesses to continue to operate amid the restrictions they have unveiled a $534 million support package.

The stimulus package includes:

  • Business Support Fund Expansion – an additional cash grant of $5,000 to $10,000 for businesses in returned restrictions
  • a business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis
  • a fund for regional tourism operators to cover the costs of refunds as well as marketing campaigns to boost region to region visitation while Victoria is under restrictions.
    • Eligible operators will also be able to claim up to $225 per night for up to five nights for each and every room cancelled due to the restrictions provided they refund the booking in full
  • a dedicated fund for the worst hit businesses in hospitality and the state’s night-time economy
  • affected businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their tax liabilities for the first half of the 2020/221 financial year
  • A further $26 million has also been set aside for mental health support and mentoring for small business owners, including sole traders.

 

JobTrainer skills package – apprenticeship program extended

The new JobTrainer program has been announced to help increase access to upskilling and training as businesses recover from COVID-19. The package will provide an additional 340,700 training places to help school leavers and job seekers access short and long courses to develop new skills.

The Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy will receive an additional $1.5 billion to expand the wage incentive to help keep apprentices in work. It builds on the initial $1.3 billion package announced in March. It will now be available to medium businesses with less than 200 employees for apprentices employed as at 1 July 2020. The program will be extended to March 2021, previously due to finish in September 2020.

The subsidy will now help almost 90,000 small and medium businesses employing around 180,000 apprentices and trainees and it covers 50% of the wages paid to apprentices and trainees, up to $7,000 per quarter.

HOW:

Further information about these changes will be made available in the coming weeks. To apply for the subsidy contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

 

JobMaker program

The JobMaker program will support thousands of jobs across Australia’s creative arts industry. The program involves a $250 million support package which aims to restart the creative economy and get the entertainment, arts and screen sectors back to work, as they rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19.

A range of new grant and loan programs will roll out over the next 12 months to different parts of the arts sector to support the creative economy and the more than 600,000 Australians it employs.

The support package includes:

  • Seed Investment to Reactivate Productions and Tours – $75 million in competitive grant funding in 2020-21 through the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. This program will help production and event businesses to put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease. This includes innovative operating and digital delivery models. Grants of varying sizes will be available, from $75,000 through to $2 million.
  • Show Starter Loans – $90 million in concessional loans to assist creative economy businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity. The loans program will complement the RISE Fund and will be delivered through commercial banks, backed by a 100% Commonwealth guarantee.
  • Kick-starting Local Screen Production– $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund, to be administered by Screen Australia, that will support local film and television producers to secure finance and start filming again. Filming of new productions has largely been halted as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19.
  • Supporting Sustainability of Sector-Significant Organisations – $35 million to provide direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19. This may include organisations in fields including theatre, dance, circus, music and other fields. The Government will partner with the Australia Council to deliver this funding.
  • Creative Economy Taskforce – establishment of a ministerial taskforce to partner with the Government and the Australia Council to implement the JobMaker plan for the creative economy.

 

Tax rates reduced for small business

From 1 July 2020, the corporate tax rate for small and medium companies with turnover under $50 million will reduce to 26% (reduced from 27.5%). This rate will reduce further to 25% in 2021-22.

HOW:

You need to be a base rate entity to be eligible for the reduced company tax rate. That is 80% or less of the company’s assessable income is base rate entity passive income.

 

Banks to extend deferrals on loans

Banks will extend repayment deferrals for another four months for households and businesses impacted by COVID-19. The deferral will be much needed relief for the areas who have returned to restrictions.

Options may include:

  • Extending the length of the loan
  • Converting to interest only payments for a period of time
  • Consolidating debt
  • A combination of these and other measures.

HOW:

Extensions won’t automatically rollover. Customers are advised to speak to their bank early to work with them and create a plan for this extension

 

Energy efficient grants up to $20,000 for small business

Grants are now available to small businesses to support opportunities for energy efficient activities. Businesses must have an annual turnover below $10 million. The grants will support equipment upgrades to reduce energy consumption, monitoring systems to better manage energy use, and energy audits to investigate other opportunities for energy efficient activities.

Eligible applicants will be:

  • licensed dairy farming businesses
  • small businesses turning over less than $10 million a year
  • high energy-using businesses consuming over 0.05 petajoules a year

 HOW:

Applications for the small business round opened on 6 July 2020 and close on 26 August 2020.

To apply visit: https://business.gov.au/Grants-and-Programs/Energy-Efficient-Communities-Program-Small-Business

 

Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program

This initiative is support to cover the cost of refunds caused by the current restrictions. When parts of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire returned to stage 3 restrictions, residents in these areas, as well as some interstate visitors have been prevented from travelling to Victoria. This has resulted in cancelled bookings with accommodation providers in regional Victoria.

Accommodation businesses in regional Victoria impacted by these cancellations will be able to apply for direct financial support through the Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program.

HOW:

Applications are open from 13 July 2020 until the end of the current Stay at Home restrictions or when funds are exhausted.

To apply visit: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package/regional-tourism-accommodation-support-program

 

Night-time economy support program

The Victorian Government has launched a $30 million dedicated fund for the hardest hit businesses in hospitality.

HOW:

More details will be available soon. Please register your interest via the link below to receive updates.

https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package/night-time-economy-support-program

 

NSW businesses: $3,000 Small Business Recovery Grant is now open for applications

The Small Business Recovery Grant will help small businesses and not-for-profits meet the costs of safely reopening or scaling up operations. If you are classified as a highly impacted industry you may be eligible for a $3,000 grant.

HOW:

Applications opened on 1 July 2020 and close 16 August 2020.

For eligibility criteria and to see the list of industries visit Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant.

 

 

If you would like assistance accessing any of the support mentioned above please contact us. We are here to help. Call 03 5443 0344 or email afs@afsbendigo.com.au