JobKeeper package a potential lifeline for small businesses

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Man holds, gives a bag of money in hand like a bonus. Businessman holding bag of money in hand offering bribe with copy space. Cash bag concept.

The $130 billion JobKeeper package announced last night by the federal government has received a warm welcome from key stakeholders in the small-business sector. The initiative is available to sole traders as well as business with employees, and to casual workers – as long as they have been working for the same organisation for 12 a minimum of 12 months – as well as part-timers and full-timers. For microbusiness and SMEs the package will deliver $1500 a fortnight per employee to every business that has seen a COVID-19 induced reduction in turnover of 30 per cent or more.

The payment is equivalent to 70 per cent of the median wage and, according to federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg, 100 per cent of the median wage for many in the sectors most adversely affected by the crisis such as hospitality and retail.

The payments will be made to businesses via the ATO from the first week of May onwards, but will be backdated 1 March.

“The JobKeeper payment will play a critical role in assisting small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said yesterday evening.

“Crucially, it will allow small businesses to continue trading and paying their staff. It will also ensure small businesses stay connected with their staff, who have been stood down, so they can re-engage their team when trading conditions return to normal.

“Any small business will tell you that staff are their most important asset and this announcement today will be a huge relief for many small businesses that have been in the midst of making very tough decisions about their future as a result of the coronavirus.

Carnell also welcomed the changes announced to the welfare system.

“In addition to the JobKeeper payment, the Job Seeker payment has also been extended to those – including sole traders – with partners that have an annual income of up to $79,000,” Carnell said. “The previous limit was $48,000 so this is a positive development.”

The JobKeeper package also received the approval of Australia’s largest accounting body, CPA Australia. Paul Drum, General Manager of External Affairs, at the CPA said that the package will help to soften the blows the crisis is raining down on businesses, workers and their families, and the economy.

“The cost of this measure – an additional $130 billion over and above what has already been committed to by governments at all levels is breathtaking – but indicative of the magnitude of the health and economic challenges Australia is facing now and in the future,” Drum said.

And James Person, the  “CPA Australia will continue to work with governments and the relevant government agencies to help ensure this package of relief gets to those who qualify as expeditiously as possible.”

And James Pearson, the CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry praised the comprehensive nature of the package.