“Hibernation” the only way to save small businesses: Ombudsman

Apologies, the ISB newsletter of Thursday 2 April contained an incorrect link – if you are looking for the construction industry story please click here.

Over the weekend Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed business hibernation plan in which small businesses will temporarily cease operations in order to prevent their further collapse in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While the proposal has received a mixed reception – some commentators believe small businesses that close their doors now may not ever reopen them again – it received the support of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell.

“The only way for small businesses to survive the coming months is if they can effectively hit pause for the time being,” Carnell said. “For businesses to bounce back when this health crisis is over, they need a holiday from all costs that they incur during this extremely difficult period. Small businesses – including those that are forced to shut their doors as well as those who suffer a significant loss of income – should be able to go into business hibernation.”

Details of the Federal government’s business hibernation plan are still being ironed out, and the ASBFEO believes a workable solution can only be arrived at with a lot effort and the collaboration of every single link in the chain that makes up the business envronment.

“Landlords, utility and service providers, telecommunications and all levels of government will need to put their fees and charges on hold or face losing that customer altogether if there is a tidal wave of insolvencies,” Carnell said.

“Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy and need our support more than ever right now. We are at a critical tipping point, but we can get through this if we work together.”

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