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:

JobKeeper Package

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.  

https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Early-access-to-superannuation

   

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.

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19/if-you-need-payment-coronavirus-covid-19

 

Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
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 relief packages to support both businesses and workers who may be displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business Support Package 

The Business Support Package provides more support to help businesses and workers through to the other side of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The package includes:

  • The Business Support Fund – Expansion program providing $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire and $5,000 for employing businesses in regional Victoria (except Mitchell Shire.)
  • A $30 million dedicated fund for Victoria’s night time economy to support the hardest hit businesses in hospitality.
  • $26 million in mental health support will ensure Victorians dealing with the compounding challenges of running a small business can get the support they need as they navigate their way through the crisis.
  • A $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis.
  • A $40 million capped fund for regional tourism businesses to cover the costs of refunds.
  • A $20 million fund to support small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD that are faced with a large and sustained shock to their trading environments.

Businesses will also benefit from an extended and expanded payroll tax deferral. Eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.

 

Business Support Fund - expansion

To support businesses impacted by stage 3 and stage 4 restrictions, one-off grants will be made available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program:

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

Businesses that have already received a Business Support Fund - Expansion grant, or have applied for one, will not need to re-apply. Successful applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation.

More information: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package/business-support-fund

 

Regional Tourism Accommodation Support Program

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

More information: 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 state government has launched a $30 million dedicated fund for the hardest hit businesses in hospitality. More details will be available soon.

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

 

Payroll Tax Relief

Two relief measures have been announced by the Victorian Government:

  1. Payroll tax waived for eligible business (announced on March 21, 2020) 
  2. Additional payments under the JobKeeper program are now exempt from payroll tax (announced on May 5, 2020) 
  3. Extended and expanded payroll tax relief deferral (announced on July 10, 2020)

More information: https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

1. Payroll tax waived for eligible businesses

Businesses with annual Victorian taxable wages up to $3 million will have their payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year waived.

Eligible businesses must continue to lodge returns but do not need to make further payments for this financial year.

The State Revenue Office will directly contact eligible businesses in relation to an emergency tax relief refund of payroll tax already paid in the financial year. These businesses can also defer paying payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.

More information about the administration of these relief measures will be sent directly to eligible businesses.

2. Additional payments under the JobKeeper program are now exempt from payroll tax

To qualify for the federal government's JobKeep payments, employers must pay a minimum of $1500 a fortnight to eligible employees.

Any additional payments made to bridge the gap between an employee’s wage and the $1500 a fortnight required for the JobKeeper program are now exempt from payroll tax. Any employer who has claimed this relief is still obliged to lodge payroll tax returns with the Commissioner, keep proper records and produce such records to the Commissioner is the Commissioner requires their production.

3. Extended and expanded payroll tax relief deferral

Eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020-21 financial year.

 

Liquor licensing

Businesses that have paid for a renewable liquor licence for 2020 will be reimbursed their licence fee and those yet to pay will have the fee waived.

The State Revenue Office will administer the reimbursement, regardless of whether the licence fee was paid to it or the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

 

Land tax relief

Two relief measures have been announced by the Victorian Government:

  1. Land tax deferral (announced March 21, 2020)
  2. Land tax reduction (25%) for land subject to commercial and residential leases (announced April 15, 2020) as well as an extension of the measure to landlords of licensed pubs, clubs and restaurants.

More information: https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

  

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

  

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/

  

Business Victoria

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.

Website: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/illness-and-business-management-plan/coronavirus-business-support

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