The Australian SME sector has backed the current policies of both federal and state governments, while continuing to call for small-business friendly policies like the reduction of red tape, simplification of reporting processes, paid parental leave and further business tax cuts.
MYOB’s latest Business Monitor revealed an increase in support of six per cent for both the federal government (to 26 per cent) and its state counterparts (to an average of 27 per cent). The NSW government was the best performer, with 33 per cent of SMEs saying they were satisfied with its last six months.
Despite SME’s rising satisfaction with governments at all levels, the survey of more than 1000 Australian SME owners and managers, did reveal that the majority of SMEs (64 per cent) are still asking the government to reduce the company tax rate, simplify the GST reporting process and keep the instant tax write-off.
“SMEs have consistently called for the government’s $20k instant asset tax write off to be made permanent, and support for this measure continues to grow in our latest survey. As such a vital contributor to our economy, it’s important that the government listens to the concerns of small-businesses owners and provides policies which enable them to be successful,” said MYOB CEO Tim Reed.
The findings also revealed payroll compliance is the number one pain point for SMEs (31 per cent) which has risen from 21 per cent since 2015.
Reed said the results show while the government has taken positive steps to reduce red tape for the small business sector, there are still a number of compliance issues making life difficult for SMEs.
“SME owners want to do the right thing by their employees by following tax and payroll regulations correctly, but complicated tax procedures make this complex and time intensive. SMEs tell us that hiring new staff can require a huge investment of time and resources, which could be better spent on other elements of managing their business,” Reed said.
Youth call for paid parental leave
Vote-changing policies for SMEs included the removal of the threshold at which GST was collected on goods purchased abroad stood out as a key concern for 24 per cent of SMEs, and the introduction of paid parental leave (PPL) levy for all businesses with a revenue over $5m (23 per cent).
Generation Y respondents led the endorsement of a PPL scheme with 45 per cent of younger SME owners indicating they would vote for a party that introduced a paid parental leave levy for businesses over $5m in revenue.
“This finding highlights the importance of a work-life balance for younger business owners. As younger generations come into the workforce and begin to start businesses, this trend is likely to increase,” Reed said.
Government support for early businesses
The MYOB Business Monitor found that around one-third of business owners felt a guaranteed income from the government would have assisted them when they started their business.
Almost a third of business owners (30 per cent) said it would also have helped them to start their business earlier, while 26 per cent claimed a guaranteed income would have encouraged them to innovate and take a greater risk in business.
“What we’re hearing is that it’s crucial for owners to feel supported in the early stages of their business. While one naturally looks for extra investment in this area, a lot of conversations have told us that it is not just hard dollar investment, but a feeling of a government that understands the challenge of starting and growing a business, and appreciates the critical role small business plays in our community.
“The government needs to look at additional actions it can take in this area to ensure SMEs in the early stages of development have the best chance of success,” Reed said.