Local business support
We recognise the uncertainty many businesses across West Wimmera Shire are experiencing at this moment. Here is the support available for our local business community, information on how to access advice, financial support and practical resources.
The federal and state governments have introduced stage three restrictions in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Under these restrictions, many businesses might find themselves unable to operate or facing financial hardship.
Federal Government Support
The Federal Government have released a number of support packages.
Key elements for businesses include:
The package will deliver $1,500 a fortnight directly to employers to assist them in retaining staff in their businesses. The scheme will support employees who were on the books dating back to 1 March 2020, with the first payments effective from 1 May 2020.
The payment of $1,500 is per eligible employee, and will be made by the ATO for a maximum period of 6 months. This is available to businesses that have:
- A turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago; or
- A turnover of over $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago.
- Not-for-profit entities and self-employed individuals that meet the turnover criteria are eligible to apply.
VTIC has been advocating for the wage subsidy solution as a key priority to provide the lifeline needed to assist our industry to retain valued staff. This means that many of you, our members, will be able to retain your dedicated and passionate staff to kick-start the recovery process on the other side of this crisis.
More information for employers is available via this fact sheet, and you can sign-up for updates and register your interest here. You can read the VTIC media release on JobKeeper here.
Cash Flow assistance for businesses
This measure provides temporary cash flow support to SMEs and NFPs, who have an aggregated turnover of <$50 million, who currently employ staff in Australia. A minimum payment of $20,000 is available, up to a maximum of $100,000.
The cash flow boost is tax free and is automatically calculated by the Australia Taxation office (ATO).
The first payment will be delivered by the ATO automatically as a credit in the activity statement system from 28 April 2020, upon a business lodging upcoming activity statements. An additional payment will be made during the July-October 2020 period, therefore the maximum available from this program is capped at $100,000 (a total of two payments).
Businesses do not need to apply for this assistance. The ATO will deliver the payment automatically as a credit to the business upon the lodgement of activity statements.
SME Guarantee Scheme
Under this scheme, the Commonwealth Government will provide a guarantee of 50% to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending.
SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.
The Commonwealth will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:
- Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower
- The loans will be up to 3 years, with an initial 6 month repayment holiday
- The loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, without the need for asset securitisation
Loans will be subject to lenders’ credit assessment processes, with the expectation that lenders look through the cycle to sensibly take into account the current uncertainty.
Assistance to help pay wages of apprentices or trainees
Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of apprentices or trainee wages during the 9 months from 1 Jan-30 Sep 2020. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice/trainee ($7K per quarter).
Support is also available through the National Apprentice Employment Network who are responsible for coordinating the re-employment of displaced apprentices/trainees.
The apprentice/trainee must have been in training with the business as at 1 March 2020. Employers will also need to undergo an eligibility assessment by an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
The Commonwealth Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company. The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of businesses that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus.
Instant Asset write-off
The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
Access to Superannuation
Casuals and sole traders who can show that their hours or their income have decreased by 20% or more as a result of COVID-19 are eligible to be able to withdraw $10,000 tax free from their superannuation in this current financial year and a further $10,000 in the next financial year.
Relaxation of insolvency measures
There will be more flexibility regarding creditor initiated insolvency and voluntary administration actions. The outstanding amount limits have been moved from $2,000 to $20,000 and timing to respond has also been moved to six months instead of 21 days. Relief for directors while trading insolvent will also be provided over the next six months.
ATO Administrative Relief
The ATO will provide administrative relief for certain tax obligations for taxpayers affected by the coronavirus outbreak, on a case-by-case basis.
All taxpayers affected by the coronavirus outbreak can contact the ATO for assistance.
You can contact the ATO on 1800 806 218 or visit the ATO website for further information.
New Wage Subsidies for workers who have lost their jobs or been stood down
Households, including casuals and sole traders, will have access to this financial support that will see a doubling of the Job Seeker Allowance (previously New Start payments) to just over $1,100 a fortnight. The normal asset test and waiting periods will be waived.
Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
A Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit has been established within The Treasury to engage with business on a regular basis and provide updates to government on crucial issues.
For more information on Federal Government support go to: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses
State Government Initiatives
The Victorian Government has initiated a $1.7 billion relief package to support both businesses and workers who may be displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The elements of this package include:
Payroll Tax Relief
Eligible businesses will be provided a full refund of payroll tax paid from 1 July 2019, as well as the deferral of future payments.
Payroll tax refunds for the 2019/20 financial year and relief for 2020/21
The Victorian Government will waive liquor licensing fees for 2020 for affected venues and small businesses.
Economic Survival and Jobs Package
$500 million towards a Business Support Fund to assist small to medium businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Register you interest here: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/economic-survival-and-jobs-package
Displaced workers register
A register to match the skills of displaced workers with other businesses who are looking to hire in the current environment.
More information: https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria
Other key elements of the initiative include;
- Removal of rent obligations for commercial businesses that operate ingovernment properties.
- All invoices due to businesses for services provided to State Government agencies must be paid within five days.
- Land Tax Relief.
For more information on State Government support, go to: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/illness-and-business-management-plan/coronavirus-business-support
Support from banking sector
If you’re dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, or facing the impacts of drought, bushfire or flood, there are practical ways your bank can help.
Australian banks have hardship teams ready to help you, depending on your circumstances.
Assistance could include:
- deferring loan payments,
- waiving fees and charges,
- helping with debt consolidation,
- waiving penalties for early withdrawal of a term deposit or
- deferring upcoming credit card payments and increasing emergency limits
Contact your bank’s financial hardship team on the web or on the phone.
For a consolidated list of banking responses, go to: https://www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/financial-hardship/
Victorian Small Business Commission mediation
The Victorian Small Business Commission is available to help small businesses, All VSBC mediations will move from in-person sessions to video conferencing or teleconferencing, until further notice.
Difficulty in paying rent
If a landlord and tenant are dealing with a situation where the tenant is having difficulty paying rent as a result of COVID-19, we encourage both the landlord or their agent and tenant to communicate as early as possible. This is really important, as it helps to make sure both parties are aware of and understand each other’s position.
Some tenants might be seeking help with their rent because they’re experiencing a downturn in business. If tenants intend to request rent relief, they might need to provide records to the landlord or agent. This is why we recommend that tenants in this situation keep accurate business records to help show how trade has been affected.
We also recommend that the landlord or agent and the tenant arrange a meeting to discuss the situation or send an email or letter to the other party detailing the issue and their request.
If a landlord, agent or tenant is unable to obtain a response from the other party, we might be able to help through the VSBC’s mediation service.
For information about how mediation can help resolve small business dispute, go to: https://www.vsbc.vic.gov.au/dispute-resolution/how-mediation-works/
Rural Financial Counselling Service
Rural Financial Counselling Service is a free, independent, professional planning and support service for farmers
The service provides support and information on financial and legal matters for rural farms, businesses and families in need of assistance. Counsellors work with farmers for as long as needed to get them and their business back on track.
For more information, call 1300 735 578 or go to https://www.wswrcs.com.au/
For business information, updates and advice on dealing with COVID-19, including information on the government’s response, developing business continuity plans, and other agencies that can help, see Business Victoria’s dedicated web page.
Business Victoria hotline: 13 22 15.
Other support services
Uniting Care Wimmera: 1800 195 114
Red Cross: 1800 232 969
Rural Outreach Program: 1300 688 732
Beyond Blue: 1300 66 4636
Victorian Coronavirus hotline: 1800 675 398
National Coronavirus hotline: 1800 020 080