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Australian and State Government Business Support for COVID-19 impacted businesses

Updated: 9 April 2020

Important note: This information on this page has been collated by ERM Power from publicly available sources and is provided for information purposes only. ERM Power is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.

Australian Government support

JobKeeper Payment

The $130 billion JobKeeper payment provides eligible employees a payment of $1,500 excluding tax per fortnight. This payment will be provided through employers. Eligibility will be assessed if a business has been significantly financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Commissioner of Taxation has extended the time to enrol for the for the initial JobKeeper periods, from 30 April 2020 until 31 May 2020.

Futher information: JobKeeper Payment for employers and employees

SME Guarantee Scheme

Small to medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than or equal to $50 million are eligible to receive funding loans to support immediate cash flow requirements.

Cash and Income Support

Temporary cash flow support will also be provided to eligible employers, based on their reporting:

  • Eligible employers can receive a payment of up to 100% of the salary and wages withheld between January to March 2020, if they report quarterly
  • Eligible employers can receive a payment of up to 300% of the salary and wages withheld in March 2020, if they report monthly
  • The minimum payment is $2,000
  • The maximum payment is $50,000

For the next six months, increased and accelerated income support is available to eligible employees. More employees are now eligible for income support payments, with an additional temporary payment of $550 per fortnight due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Income support payments for casual employees are available for those impacted by COVID-19. Eligible employers are also able to access apprentice or trainee wage assistance through wage subsidies, calculated as 50% of an apprentice or trainee wage during the period 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. There is a maximum cap applied of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee.

Futher information: Learn more about the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

Backing Business Investment (BBI)

This scheme is intended to support continued investment and economic growth over a 15-month period. If a business has a turnover of less than $500 million, they will be eligible to accelerate depreciation deductions on assets or installations. 50% of the asset or installation cost will be able to be deducted.

Further Information: Learn more about Backing Business Investment

Tax Support

The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased to $150,000. This means that individual assets less than $150,000 that are installed by 30 June 2020 will be eligible for the instant asset write off scheme.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is also providing assistance related to tax for business.

Further Information: Tax Support

Early Access to Superannuation

Early release of superannuation will be allowed between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years. Eligible members will be able to access up to $10,000 superannuation in 2019-20 and an additional $10,000 in 2020-21.

Further Information: Early Access to Superannuation

Commercial Tenancies

The Federal Government has announced a range of measures to help renters. This includes a temporary hold on evictions and a mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by coronavirus. The Code of Conduct (the Code) outlines a set of good faith leasing principles for commercial tenancies including retail, office, and industrial between owners, operators, other landlords and tenants
This Code applies to tenants that are:

  • a small-medium sized business with an annual turnover of up to $50 million
  • eligible for the JobKeeper Payment

Rent reductions will be based on the tenant’s decline in turnover to ensure that the burden is shared between landlords and tenants

The policy will include a mutual obligation requirement on the small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profit tenants to continue to engage their employees through the JobKeeper Payment where eligible, and if applicable, provide rent relief to their subtenants.

Principles of the code

The code includes a common set of 14 principles. These include that:

  • landlords must not terminate leases for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic (or reasonable recovery period)
  • tenants must stay committed to their lease terms (subject to amendments)
  • landlords must offer reductions in rent (as waivers or deferrals) based on the tenant’s reduction in trade during COVID-19
  • benefits that owners get for their properties (e.g. reduced charges, land tax, deferred loan payments) should be passed on to the tenant (in the appropriate proportion)

Further Information: Relief for Commercial Tenants

Temporary Relief for Directors

Personal liability for directors of companies financially impacted by COVID-19 will be relieved for six months for trading while insolvent.

Further Information: Temporary Relief for Financially Distressed Businesses

Additional information on support for businesses can be found here:

  • Australian Banking Association (ABA): Australian Banks are offering a Small Business Relief Package, where loan payments for small business can be deferred for up to six months. Hardship contact details are also available. Further Information: ABA
  • Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC): ASIC will not take action if AGMs are deferred until 31 July 2020. Further Information: ASIC
  • Department of Health provides an information sheet on COVID-19 for employers. Further Information: Dept of Health
  • Fair Work Ombudsman provides information on workplace laws, business entitlements and obligations in relation to COVID-19. Further Information: Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws
  • Comcare provides advice on the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for business owners. Further Information: Comcare
  • Chartered Accountants provides information on the impact of COVID-19 on business and tax. Further Information: Chartered Accountants

Energy Networks

In the NEM (ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC) some electricity and gas networks are providing an Energy network relief package for small business consumers who meet these criteria:

• Small business customers consuming less than 40 MWh or 400 GJ per year (based on 2019 consumption) and are ‘mothballing’ due to COVID-19
• Consume less than 25% of their usual consumption over the period 1 April to 30 June 2020

Rebates will apply to network charges for 1 April to 30 June 2020. Customers will need to provide supporting evidence by 1 September 2020. Distributors will provide the rebate by the end of September 2020.
Further information, including a list of participating networks is available here: Energy Networks Relief Package

State Government support

Australian Capital Territory

Economic Survival Package

At the state capital level, there are a number of measures that are being rolled out by the ACT Government under the $137 million Economic Survival Package:

  • Electricity rebates of $750 will be given to eligible small business owners who annually use less than 100 MWh. Rebates are applied per customer (i.e. one payment even if the customer has multiple sites) and there are a range of excluded customers.
  • A payroll tax waiver will be provided to hospitality, creative arts and entertainment businesses from April to September 2020. Interest-free payroll tax deferrals will be an option for eligible businesses with Group Australia-wide wages of up to $10 million
  • Food business registrations and on-license liquor licensing fees with be waived for 12 months for licenced venues
  • Rebates for commercial rate payers will be applied to the value of $2,622 for eligible commercial property owners

Further Information: Economic Survival Package

New South Wales

The NSW Government have announced a $1 billion Working for NSW Fund to assist businesses and employment.

A range of measures to assist business with payroll tax have been announced. For eligible businesses with a payroll of under $10 million, a three-month waiver of payroll tax will be applied, or until the end of the financial year. After this initial waiver, eligible businesses will receive an additional deferral of payroll tax for three months. For eligible businesses with payrolls over $10 million, payroll tax will be deferred for six months. The payroll tax threshold will also be increased to $1 million for the 2020-21 financial year.

Fee waivers are also being applied. For businesses operating in sectors deemed to be vulnerable, including hospitality and trade businesses, specific fees and charges will be waived. This is in addition to the deferral of gaming taxes, lotteries taxes and parking space levies for six months for eligible businesses.

Additional employment funding is being provided to hire extra cleaning staff for public assets and infrastructure. Additionally, $250 million has been allocated to expedite maintenance of public assets, and an additional $500 million for the fast-tracking of capital works.

In addition to the measures announced by the Australian Government, rent deferrals are applied to commercial tenancies of Government-owned properties which house a maximum of 20 employees. A six-month moratorium on lease evictions has been passed in NSW legislation.

Further Information:

For businesses in the local Sydney area, the City of Sydney will:

  • Provide fee waivers for health and building compliance activities. Other fee waivers to be applied to eligible businesses are footway dining, market permit and filming fees
  • Investigate the rents for tenants that may be experiencing financial issues
  • Provide specific contractual waivers for bookings at City of Sydney venues that are unable to proceed. The City of Sydney will also be flexible when it comes to local council infringements

Further Information: City of Sydney COVID-19 Support for Business

Northern Territory

The NT Government has established a $50 million Small Business Survival Fund to provide grants to businesses. A Business Improvement Grant will make $10,000 grants available to businesses, with the potential to access an additional $10,000, under specific circumstances. There are conditions applied to how the grant can be used by the business, with the intent for the funding to be used for business improvement projects.

A $30 million Home Improvement Scheme will be made available to homeowners to make land or building improvements, repairs and maintenance, with businesses able to participate to provide these services through a registration process. A $5 million Immediate Work Grant will provide not-for-profit and community organisations with grants up to $100,000 to undertake property and facility works through local businesses.

A Structural Adjustment Package has been developed as a program to assist service industries, such as hospitality businesses, to install infrastructure to assist with social distancing requirements, while allowing customer service activities to continue.

There has been a freeze placed on government fees and charges, not allowing for any increases. This includes electricity bills.

New employment has received focus from the NT Government through a payroll tax exemption, which places an exemption to payroll tax for new hires to 30 June 2021.

Further Information:

Queensland

The QLD Government has announced a $27.25 million Immediate Industry Recovery Package to provide financial support and advice to local government, business and industry.

In relation to job support during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Worker Transition Scheme and rapid response has been established to provide information and support to employees who have lost work due to business shutdowns and redundancy. Eligible businesses may also be able to access a low interest loan of up to $250,000 to retain staff. This will be provided through a concessional loan facility, with an interest free period of 12 months. Additionally, eligible businesses will be provided payroll tax relief, with the ability to defer payroll tax return payment until the end of July 2020.

Eligible small business electricity customers are entitled to a $500 rebate if they consume less than 100 MWhs per year. For customers with multiple sites they must consume less than 100 MWh over all sites. Rebates were applied automatically on 30th April and will appear on the next available invoice. Certain customers are ineligible and there are further details for embedded network operators.

Further Information:

For businesses in the local Brisbane area, the Brisbane City Council has announced support measures:

  • A three-month waiver of charges, rents, levies and permit fees. This will apply to Brisbane businesses and leaseholders of Council buildings
  • A moratorium on a range of fees and charges will be applied, relevant to outdoor dining, food safety, advertising and temporary food stalls. The moratorium will also be relevant to specific commercial operations, including river moorings, lease rents and stalls, booths and stands. Community organisations will not need to pay lease fees

Further Information: Brisbane City Council Business Fee Waiver

South Australia

The SA Government has announced a $1 billion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a Jobs Rescue Package, which includes the Business and Jobs Support Fund and the Community and Jobs Support Fund. The $300 million Business and Jobs Support Fund will be available to support business activities and employment. Increased funding has also been allocated to the Economic and Business Growth Fund, which promotes business and industry investment and growth.

An expansion of criteria for eligibility for the Job Accelerator Grant has been applied, allowing more employers to be eligible for these payments.

Payroll tax waivers of six months will be available to businesses with wages up to $4 million between April and September 2020. For business which have been impacted by COVID-19, but with annual wages above this threshold, may be eligible for deferred payroll tax payments. Deferral of land tax payments will be accessible for businesses for six months. Land tax relief to 100% of the increase in an eligible business’ land tax assessment has been announced, under certain circumstances. Liquor licensing fees will be waived for a number of hospitality business categories.

Further Information:

The City of Adelaide has announced support for local small businesses, including:

  • A three-month rent waiver for small business and community leaseholders of council-owned buildings, and Adelaide Central Market Tenants
  • A three-month waiver of the Rundle Mall Marketing Levy
  • The establishment of a Small Business Task Force to provide information on support packages and services available

Further Information: City of Adelaide COVID 19

Tasmania

Small businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million will be able to access interest-free loans through a $50 million Small Business Interest Free Loan Scheme. The loans will be provided for business operations and equipment, on an interest-free basis of three years.

A $40 million Small Business Grants Program has been made accessible to eligible businesses, with $2500 payments being held for the potential provision of emergency grants. A Local Government Loan Scheme has been topped up to $150 million for the continuation of local infrastructure projects.

Employment has received focus through the Rapid Response Skills Initiative, where employees seeking to immediately retrain will be able to access $3,000 for skills development or to obtain new licenses for work.

Small businesses will receive energy bill relief, with the Tasmanian Government waiving the next quarterly energy bill for small businesses and community organisations. A cap on energy prices will also be applied for 12 months.

Payroll tax waivers for four months will be available to small businesses in specific industries, starting from March 2020. Refunds and waivers for this period will be applied, if relevant. Businesses with payrolls up to $5 million may be eligible, dependent on the level of impact COVID-19 has had on their business.

Fee waivers will apply to sector-specific small business licenses and leases. Government fees and charges will either be reduced or capped, according to the following:

  • For small business on Tariffs 22, 94, 82 or 75, water and electricity bills will be waived for the quarter following 1 April 2020. This includes small businesses on market contracts and standing offers whose aggregate load is less than 150 MWh per year.
  • For the 2020-21 financial year, a cap will be applied to electricity bills. A freeze will be applied to water bills.
  • For fees and charges under the Government Fee Units Act 1997, a freeze will be applied.

Small businesses with contracts with state government agencies will have reduced payment terms to 14 days.

Procurement and employment are being expedited over the next 12 months through a $50 million allocation to support maintenance on public buildings.

Business continuity support is being provided through $750,000 in funding for businesses to access cashflow and continuity advice. Additional funding has been provided to organisations to support business during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The Small Business Council of Tasmania has been allocated $50,000
  • THA have received $200,000 to assist in providing information and advice
  • Rural Business Tasmania has received $200,000 to expand its Rural Financial Counselling service
  • The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been allocated $80,000 to support impacted businesses

Further Information: Tasmania COVID-19 Information for business

For businesses in the local Hobart region, the City of Hobart Council will:

  • Provide rent relief for eligible tenants of premises owned by the City of Hobart
  • Provide deferral of penalties and interest of rate payments for eligible rate payers for Q4 2019-20. Eligible ratepayers will also be allowed to have their rate payments postponed
  • Provide specific fee waivers for impacted businesses
  • Provide commitments on local procurement
  • Provide additional support grants to eligible businesses and creative industries, the Quick Response Grants
  • Request from the State Government that current offers of interest-free loans be reallocated as grants for essential services and capital works

Further information: Hobart City Council COVID-19

Victoria

The Victorian Government has provided a $1.7 billion Economic Survival and Jobs Package. This includes a $500 million Business Support Fund to support small and medium-sized businesses.

A Working for Victoria Fund will be available to support employees who have had their work impacted by COVID-19 related economic downturn, allowing opportunities to be made available for paid employment.

Tax support will be provided to small and medium-sized businesses. Payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year will be refunded to businesses that have a total payroll of less than $3 million, and there will be a deferral of payroll tax for the first quarter of the 2021-21 financial year until 1 January 2021. Payment terms for businesses with government contracts has been reduced to five days.

Further information:

For businesses within the local Melbourne region, the City of Melbourne has provided a local economic stimulus package, including the following support measures:

  • A virtual Business Support Summit at Melbourne Town Hall
  • A three-month registration and permit fees suspension for Food Act registrations and street trading
  • Reducing the rent for eligible Council-building tenants for three months by 50%
  • A commitment to developing a Rates Hardship Policy

Further information: Melbourne City Council COVID-19

Western Australia

The WA Government has announced a number of initiatives to assist business. The Government has allocated $114 million to assist small business, with the availability of one-off $17,500 small business grants.

Small to medium businesses with annual wages of less than $7.5 million in 2019-20 will have payroll tax waived between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. A number of license fees have been waived for small to medium-sized businesses which are significantly impacted by COVID-19, dependent on the industry. In relation to payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle license duty or license duty, impacted businesses may also be eligible for interest-free payment arrangements and the removal of late payment penalties.

A $2,500 credit will be available to eligible small businesses to apply to electricity bills who consumer under 50 MWh. Current customers will be eligible for the credit and will apply from 1 May 2020 for eligible customers. Impacted small businesses with not face electricity or water disconnections due to non-payment.

Further information:

For businesses in the local Perth area, the City of Perth have pledged a range of support measures, including:

  • A rate freeze on municipal rates and charges
  • Applying a three-month fee and charge waiver relating to small business inspection services. There will also be the establishment of an express planning service for small businesses, specifically for change of land use and development applications. No application fees will apply.
  • A three-month lease and rent suspension for tenants leasing property from the City of Perth
  • The establishment of programs to accelerate capital works and city maintenance projects
  • Refunds for cancelled bookings at council-owned buildings or facilities
  • Reduced payment terms of 15 days for creditors
  • Payment assistance options for impacted debtors

Further information: City of Perth COVID-19