COVID-19 resources: where can businesses find help?
With the current restrictions on non-essential business activities, businesses are in the middle of a very uncertain time. So, where can business owners find help?
Published: 21 April, 2020
It has been a tough year for Australian business owners. So far in 2020 Aussies have been impacted by bushfires, floods, border closures, and now a global pandemic. It was reported recently on the ABC that ‘almost half of Australian businesses surveyed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics say they have experienced an adverse impact as a result of COVID-19′.
The below information might help to provide guidance that is relevant to your business’ circumstances, and provide some insight into where you can turn to get support during this time.
All information in this article is accurate at the time of publishing. However, as the COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly, it’s best to check the websites of the relevant government departments and support agencies to ensure you have the most up-to-date details when you make decisions for your business.
Keeping you in the loop
The Australian Government recently launched a COVID-19 WhatsApp messaging service and app to help provide Australians with the latest information on the COVID-19 situation.
Australian government assistance for businesses
Below is a list of initiatives that have been announced so far by the Australian Government to help support businesses during this tough time:
JobKeeper Payment Program
On 30 March 2020, the Australian Government announced a $130 billion wage subsidy program. It estimates almost half of the Australian workforce will get this payment over the next six months, which approximately equates to six million people in companies impacted by shutdowns and economic downturn. To put it into perspective, Australia’s entire workforce is about 13 million people.
So, what does this mean for your business?
- Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the government to continue paying their employees.
- Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of six months.
What businesses are eligible?
- A business that has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover has fallen by more than 30% (of at least a month); or
- A business that has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover has fallen by more than 50% (of at least a month); and
- A business that is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.
Why has the government settled on $1,500 per fortnight?
- The Federal government confirmed this amount represented about 70% of the median wage in Australia.
When will the payments start?
- The program started on Monday, 30 March 2020; however, the money won’t flow through until 1 May 2020.
Find out more here.
Boosting cash-flow for employers
The government confirmed they will provide up to $100,000 back to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000.
The eligibility includes businesses with an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and who employ workers.
Find out more here.
Assistance for affected regions, communities and industries
So far, $1 billion has been set aside to support regions and communities most significantly affected by the Coronavirus and heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.
These funds will be available to assist over the next few months and year ahead to ensure these communities are well placed to recover.
Find out more here.
SME guarantee scheme
- The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will provide a guarantee of 50% to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new, unsecured loans to be used for working capital.
- This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will mean SMEs can access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.
- SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.
It’s also a good idea to look into the different support options available from your state government and any tools and resources, or articles that might be available from business councils or advocacy groups.
Additional resources to help you and your staff
Australian Government website
Utility providers and banks
Find out what support is available to you from your utility providers, banks, insurers and other organisations that your business relies on. Many organisations are making temporary changes to the payment terms for their fees, or are offering access to support programs.
AGL’s COVID-19 updates
Learn how we’re supporting our customers, community and team members.Read more
Many businesses have owners and employees who are also volunteer firefighters or SES volunteers, and may still be recovering from this summer’s bushfire disaster.
If you are one of those people who worked tirelessly to save lives and homes during the bushfire disaster, AGL is offering a $150 credit (including GST) per customer on their electricity or gas bills (residential and small business) to say thank you. When you have time, please contact us on 131 245 before 7 July 2020. Registered and active volunteer firefighters and SES volunteers can share their volunteer ID number over the phone to have the credit applied to their next bill.
Mental health resources
Running a business can be stressful at the best of times. It’s never been more important to look after your wellbeing and mental health than during this difficult time. Support is available through organisations like Beyond Blue, Lifeline and the Australian Government.
Businesses evolving through tough times
Interested in learning about businesses pivoting from their conventional operations and adapting to creative alternatives? Gin distilleries and breweries are using their product to create hand sanitiser, and a local greengrocer has introduced a ‘knock and drop’ home delivery service to support the community who are self-isolating.
Helping to keep the lights on
We recognise AGL's role as an essential service provider to millions of Australian homes and businesses, especially during these unfamiliar times. We're supporting our customers and community.Covid-19 Updates