Renewed demands for financial safety net for lockdown-affected SMEs

In the wake of this week’s lockdown in Victoria, and growing concerns regarding possible future lockdowns on the back of COVID outbreaks, the professional accounting body CPA Australia has called on the Federal, state, and territory governments to provide financial support to the affected businesses.

In a statement, CPA Australia stressed that businesses cannot continue to absorb losses created by snap lockdowns and border closures.

“Most Australian states have implemented at least one snap lockdown. Each time, many businesses have experienced significant, unrecoverable losses,” CPA Australia Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Hunter, said.

“We’ve been living with COVID-19 for more than a year now. JobKeeper ends next month and we still don’t have a substitute for businesses that are compulsorily closed or those otherwise impacted by lockdowns, such as suppliers and customers outside the lockdown areas.

“We understand the need for swift action to control the spread of COVID-19,” Hunter added. “However, it seems businesses are being treated as an afterthought when making lockdown decisions. If governments are going to rip the rug out from under them at short notice, they need to provide a safety net.”

While it did not recommend specific measures for the government to undertake, CPA Australia stressed that such measures should have the following attributes:

  • Standardised (consistent across jurisdictions).
  • Scaleable (to the duration of each lockdown).
  • Targeted (to severely impacted businesses).
  • Rapidly deployed (in hours, not days or weeks).

“This is not a reaction to events in an individual state,” Hunter said. “The next lockdown could occur anywhere in Australia. Sympathy won’t pay for spoilt produce, cancelled bookings and empty chairs at empty tables. Businesses need more certainty – they need a coordinated national response that will deliver help fast when the next lockdown occurs.”

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