Small Business Support
Are you looking for resources to assist your family or business?
Below are a list of State and Federal resources we have collated for your assistance.
Visit the NSW Department of Primary Industries for up-to-date information on COVID-19 and primary industries, as we support our primary industries sector through the challenges and impacts of COVID-19. DPI will also continue to provide biosecurity, food safety and animal welfare essential services to primary producers, their families and communities throughout NSW. Visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/covid-19 for more information.
Service NSW is available for immediate income assistance, cost of living support and general support for individuals and households. Phone 13 77 88 or access the website at https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/covid-19#government-updates-advice-and-information
The NSW Government is providing financial support to ease the pressures on small business as a result of COVID-19. If your small business or non-profit organisation has experienced a significant decline in revenue as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for the small business support grant of up to $10,000. More information at https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-small-business-covid-19-support-grant
The Government’s wage subsidy still sees a large number of workers in NSW missing out on payment, including:
Over 1 million casuals nationwide;
Many school and university workers;
Temporary and local government workers; and
Many charities, arts and entertainment workers.
What is the eligibility criteria for employers?
For businesses including companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders, not-for-profits and charities.
Business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and the turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (of at least a month); or
Business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and the turnover has fallen by more than 50 per cent (of at least a month);
The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020, and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper payments.
What do eligible employers need to do?
Employers should register their interest for the JobKeeper payment now via the ATO at www.ato.gov.au/Job-keeper-payment
Eligible employers will need to identify eligible employees for JobKeeper payments. This includes information on the number of eligible employees engaged as at 1 March 2020 and those currently employed by the business (including those stood down or re-hired).
Must provide monthly updates to the ATO, including reporting the number of eligible employees employed by the business.
Participating employers will be required to ensure eligible employees receive at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
Employers must continue to pay the superannuation guarantee on regular wages but it will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper payment. Notify all eligible employees that they are receiving the JobKeeper payment.
What if I have a business without employees or I am self-employed?
Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed are eligible. Businesses without employees will need to provide an ABN for their business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number and provide a declaration as to recent business activity. People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to your bank account.
What about if a business or not-for-profit was not in operation a year earlier, or if the turnover a year earlier was not representative of their usual or average turnover?
The Tax Commissioner will have discretion to consider additional information that the business or not-for-profit can provide to establish that they have been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Businesses that are in liquidation will not receive the payment.
The Tax Commissioner will also have discretion to set out alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances (e.g. eligibility may be established as soon as a business has ceased or significantly curtails its operations). There will be some lenience where employers, in good faith, estimate a 30 per cent or more or 50 per cent or more fall in turnover but actually experience a slightly smaller fall.
What about charities?
For charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), they are eligible for the subsidy if they estimate their GST turnover has fallen or will likely fall by 15 per cent or more relative to a comparable period. The lower turnover decline test does not apply to universities and non-government schools that are registered charities, who will remain subject to the turnover decline tests for other not-for-profits and businesses.
What is the eligibility criteria for employees?
Currently employed by an eligible employer (applies to people those stood down/re-hired).
Were employed by an eligible employer at 1 March 2020.
Workers that are/were full-time, part-time, or sole traders at 1 March 2020.
Long-term casuals, which are defined as people that have been casually employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020.
Need to be at least 16 years of age.
An Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a New Zealander on a Special Category (subclass 444) Visa Holder.
Gig economy workers will also be covered, as they are sole traders.
Unfortunately if you are receiving Parental Leave Pay from Services Australia, you are not eligible for the JobKeeper payment. However, if you are on parental leave from your employer you will be eligible. You are eligible for the JobKeeper payment if you are receiving workers compensation – if you are working, for example on reduced hours. However, you will not be eligible if you are not working.
What do employees need to do?
If you have multiple employers, only one employer will be eligible to receive the payment, you must notify the employer that is your primary employer. If you are not an Australian citizen, you must notify your employer of your visa status, so your employer can determine if you are an eligible employee. If you are receiving or have applied for an income support payment you should advise Services Australia of your change in circumstances and report the JobKeeper payment as income online at my.gov.au or by telephone on 133 276.
What if I have been stood down/made redundant?
If you have been stood down, your employer must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. Employees of businesses that shut down due to various restrictions – such as cafes, restaurants, theatres etc will continue to get the JobKeeper subsidy even if they are not working. If you were employed on 1 March 2020, and your employment has ceased/or you were made redundant, your employer is able to re-engage you and you will be entitled to receive at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
What if I earn under or over $1,500 a fortnight normally?
For employees that have been receiving less than $1,500 per fortnight, your employer is required to top up your payment to $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. For those employees earning more than $1,500 per fortnight, the employer is able to provide a top-up, however there is no requirement for employers to make up the difference.
What if I am receiving the JobSeeker payment or income support payments?
You cannot receive the JobKeeper payment and also receive the JobSeeker payment (formerly Newstart). The income you receive from the JobKeeper payment will cancel out your eligibility for the JobSeeker payment. You will only receive one payment. If you have already applied for JobSeeker, you can withdraw and change to JobKeeper payments if you are re-engaged by your employer/if they are registering you as an employee to receive JobKeeper. If you have already applied for the JobSeeker payment it is best not to cancel your JobSeeker application until the JobKeeper legislation has passed Parliament and your employer has informed you that you will receive the JobKeeper payment. If you are receiving any income support payments, report the JobKeeper payment as income online at my.gov.au or by telephone on 133 276.
How will JobKeeper be paid?
Employers need to apply for the JobKeeper subsidy. Eligible employers will be paid $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for six months. Payments will be made to the employer monthly by the Australian Tax Office. Employers will pass on the payments to employees.
What is the timing?
The subsidy starts on 30 March, however payments begin in the first week of May and will be backdated to 30 March. Payments will last for 6 months. Employers should register their interest for the JobKeeper payment NOW via www.ato.gov.au/Job-keeper-payment/
Help! Covid-19 has infected my business!
Business owners have been calling me because they have heard of an announcement of a new grant or other assistance on the television, or over the radio, but there is not a lot of detail of how it will work in practical terms. As soon as I get the details on an assistance package, I will post the fact sheet, media release or whatever other relevant information I have in one of these please areas.
Federal Support for small businesses including sole traders and family businesses can be found here – Links to: Jobseeker Payment, increased instant asset write-off, backing business investment (BBI), increased and accelerated income support, assistance for affected regions, communities and industries, SME guarantee scheme, early access to superannuation, tax support.
Federal Assistance and information for Employers can be found here – Links to: Jobseeker Payment, boosting cashflow for employers, assistance to help pay the wages of apprentices or trainees, casual employees, employer obligations, factsheets and downloadable posters for your business, Australian workplace laws and coronavirus, creating flexible working arrangements, Safe Work Australia advice, up-to-date isolation requirements, super guarantee payments, supporting mental health and travelling for work.
NSW Government information and assistance for small businesses and workplaces (including advice on social distancing regulations) can be found here.
NSW Small Business Commissioner advice and information for small business owners can be found here.
My top three tips for you…
As a former multi-award winning business person, I know how hard it is to keep your business on track through a crisis. Over nearly two decades in business, and four years working with small business owners, tourism operators and primary producers as a Shadow Minister in NSW, through droughts, bushfires, floods and pandemics, I have three key pieces of advice that most business owners tell me they find are useful.
1. Apply for everything, and don’t assume you’re not eligible, ask questions if you don’t understand.
Don’t give up half way through the application process, or self-exclude yourself. If the program doesn’t apply at first, it’s likely that it might not suit other business owners. Governments only know that their programs are not targeted effectively if lots of people apply and aren’t successful.
Please let me know if you have any questions in relation to a grant, loan or other assistance program. For example, if a package is targeted at businesses with 1-19 employees, does that mean 19 Full time equivalent (FTE) or 19 people? If you employ a lot of part time or casual staff, it could make a big difference. If you hear something in the media, but you can’t see it on any fact sheets, again, please let me know. These are the kinds of issues we can raise directly with the Minister concerned.
2. Look for new opportunities, and be open to suggestions
If you have ideas for the kind of assistance you would love to have from government, or brilliant ideas that might help others get through this crisis, let me know. Local Maitland business operator Chris Ackland from the Sign Shop has just designed a portable customer service shield for retailers. Some of our other local manufacturing businesses are looking at changing their manufacturing to desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE). The NSW Government has recently announced a new online tender for making PPE and other essential supplies. If you can’t fulfil it on your own, see if you can work with other businesses.
3. Take care of yourself – “adjust your own oxygen mask before assisting others”
It’s easy to think that you are lucky, and that others have it worse than you, and maybe that’s true, but be gentle with yourself and make sure you ask for help when you need it. It’s the old travel agent in me but what’s the first thing they say to you when you get on the plane? “Adjust your own oxygen mask before helping others”. There are a lot of people in our community who have been helping others for a long time, and they need to remember to look after themselves too. Yes, I am looking at you!
I know this is going to be tough, and it won’t just be tough on you, you are in business because you care about people – your family, your team, their families, your friends and your customers. They will all be struggling and often looking to you for leadership. But don’t be afraid to ask for some support for yourself. Do it for them, so you can help them keep their jobs and support their families.
Prime Minister’s Statements & Announcements
Friday 3 April – covering commercial tenancies, childcare and education, local government, religious services, Easter holidays,
Monday 30 March - Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Federal Government would pay a wage subsidy to certain workers impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. On 8 April 2020, the Federal parliament passed legislation to enable this scheme.
NSW Treasury has established a phone line and email address for NSW-based businesses to call and learn what types of support are available. Phone: 02 8222 4888 Email: email@example.com
Revenue NSW Payroll tax relief will be available from July and information is accessible here.
NSW Labor's list of assistance programmes for small business here
NSW RURAL ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY LOANS & GRANTS REPAYMENTS
If you have experienced a special disaster including drought, bushfires, floods, are a primary producer, commercial fisher or involved in the forest industry, you may be eligible for a loan or grant from the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA). For information about available grants or loans, please go to: www.raa.nsw.gov.au.
You may apply to defer a repayment on your RAA loan if you are experiencing financial difficulties where:
making a repayment would cause you serious hardship
there are other special reasons affecting you – for example, a natural disaster, death or serious illness.
Repayment deferrals can be negotiated for up to 12 months. Send your request to defer a repayment to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the RAA on 1800 678 593.
Repayment deferral requests exceeding 12 months must be submitted in writing with the following supporting documentation;
3 years financial statements
3 years individual tax returns
12 month cash flow forecast
These requests can be submitted to either: email@example.com or via fax (02) 6391 3098 or post to:
NSW Rural Assistance Authority
Locked Bag 23
ORANGE NSW 2800
NSW RURAL FINANCIAL COUNSELLING SERVICE
The NSW Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) is a free and confidential service that provides information and assistance on financial position, budgets and submitting applications. There are over 30 rural financial counsellors throughout NSW who are available to support farmers. Find your local rural financial counsellor.
For more information on banks in relation to security, fraud and scams, reducing fees, or if you need to make a complaint about a bank you should contact the Australian Banking Association.
Australian Tax Office has introduced a series of relief measures that can be accessed by calling 1800 806 218 or clicking here.
Fair Work Australia has provided some information here on workplace laws and the COVID-19 epidemic.
Department of Industry Innovation & Science - Helpline for small businesses impacted by Coronavirus phone:13 28 46 or visit online the Contact centre
Centrelink: 13 24 68 – For sole traders and other small business people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) Currently callers are experiencing high call volumes and long wait times. You may also be able to use one of the self service options.
Department of Home Affairs - Current Alerts – movement and travel related issues for you or your employees
Indigenous Business Australia: 1800 107 107 - Covid-19 Support
Medicare: 13 20 11- Health professionals
Australian Government Business website: Assistance for affected regions, communities and industries
Australian Interstate Quarantine - www.interstatequarantine.org.au/state-and-territory-border-closures - for information about State and Territory border closures.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand – http://www.foodstandards.gov.au for further information about food safety and COVID-19
Primary Industries Ministers’ Meeting 27 March 2020 – view the communique here.
New South Wales Farmers - www.nswfarmers.org.au or call 1300 794 000
World Health Organisation - www.who.int
Australian Taxation Office - www.ato.gov.au
Safe Work Australia www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/collection/business-resource-kit-covid-19
Tourism Australia - Coronavirus Information and Resources for Australia's Tourism Industry or call 02 9360 1111
Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) - COVID-19 Industry information & support
Tourism E School – COVID-19 Immediate Response Action Plan for Destinations
Business Australia – Business Guide to Coronavirus
Facebook - business grants
Cruise industry – Cruise Lines International Association statement
Event organisers – Department of Health advice
Airlines – International Air Transport Association advice and updates
Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) – www.ttf.org.au
Bus NSW – Bus & Coach Association NSW – www.busnsw.org.au
Office of Health & Medical Research – www.medicalresearch.nsw.gov.au/covid-19-clinical-trial-guidance
Medical Research Future Fund Grants – https://www.health.gov.au/news/impact-of-covid-19-on-medical-research-future-fund-grants & https://www.health.gov.au/news/research-funding-for-covid-19-treatments
National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) – https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/research-policy/COVID-19-impacts
World Health Organisation – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov