Banks to help fill funding gap until Jobkeeper kicks in

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Banks ANZ, NAB, Westpac, and the Commonwealth Bank have agreed to boost their efforts to assist businesses needing funding at this time until the first Jobkeeper payments are made in May.

This development comes after a meeting late last week between the Federal Treasurer and the CEOs of the big four banks.

As part of the agreement special hotlines will be set up to help manage the applications and Jobkeeper-related applications will be prioritised through a joint effort between the banks and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) had previously reported that more than $700 million worth of loans have been granted to businesses by the banks to help them through the crisis. The industry has also offered various means of support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including six-month deferrals on loans attached to the business and extension of existing lines of credit and waiving fees and charges.

Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh said that banks are working to process the applications as quickly as possible. However, she stressed that more measures need to be done in order to ensure businesses met the deadlines for eligibility for the Jobkeeper program.

“Throughout this crisis banks have worked hard to ensure they keep businesses afloat and keep people in jobs, with more than $700 million already lent to businesses to help see them through the pandemic,” Bligh said.

“From today banks are bolstering their efforts to fast-track any outstanding applications from businesses seeking funding to help them pay staff until the Jobkeeper supplement is paid in May. A dedicated hotline will be set up by each major bank to help service the businesses requesting this important lifeline.”

Bligh also reported that other ABA member banks outside the big four are looking into ways of helping their own customers who are struggling financially pending the injection of JobKeeper funds into their accounts.