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AusIndustry has provided the following overview of the information currently available about support measures for businesses relating to COVID-19. (released Tuesday 24 March)

The main COVID-19 page on the AusIndustry website is being continuously updated as new information becomes available and they will continue to provide updates.

 

Coronavirus business support

If your business has been affected by the coronavirus, AusIndustry have a team of dedicated customer representatives who can help you on 13 28 46. The dedicated team will be available to assist with extended hours between 7am – 9pm across Australia, Monday to Sunday.

Updated Information – business.gov.au

The Australian Government has announced measures to support businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

Announcements include:

Boosting cash flow for employers

Up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. This is made up of the below components.

Under the enhanced scheme, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000.

An additional payment is also being introduced in the July – October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

Temporary Flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001

Temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.

The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

The Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending.

The Government is cutting red tape by providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This reform will help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently.

Reserve Bank of Australia – Term Funding Facility for the Banking System

Banks will have access to at least $90 billion in funding at a fixed interest rate of 0.25 per cent. This will reinforce the benefits of a low cash rate by reducing funding costs for banks, which in turn will help reduce interest rates for borrowers. To encourage lending to businesses, the facility offers additional low-cost funding to banks if they expand their business lending, with particular incentives applying to new loans to SMEs.

The Government is providing the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) with $15 billion to invest in structured finance markets used by smaller lenders. This program will assist smaller lenders, who will not benefit from the RBA’s term funding facility, to maintain access to funding and support competition in the lending market. This in turn will help keep mortgages and other borrowing costs for businesses low.

Income Support for Individuals

Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.

Visit Services Australia for further information on assistance for individuals.

Visit business.gov.au for details on the complete assistance available for business.

Tender opportunities

Expression of Interest published on AusTender seeking to identify suppliers of swabs used for testing for COVID-19 in Australia

Given current global demand for supplies related to COVID-19, the Australian Government is working to ensure reliable and sustainable supplies to collection centres such as laboratories and hospitals.

The Expression of Interest is for the supply of nasopharyngeal and/or oropharyngeal swabs which will be suitable for COVID-19 sample collection.

Any questions associated with the Expression of Interest may be directed by email to covidtestingsupplies@industry.gov.au.

Please note responses to the Expression of Interest will close at 12pm AEDT on Wednesday 25 March 2020.

Request for Information – PPE

Request for Information by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. This is a request for information only. The sole purpose is to obtain information in connection with gaining an understanding of Australian manufacturing of medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it is not a procurement and does not form part of any Commonwealth procurement process.  Specifically, submissions are sought from Australian manufacturers of:

a)      Surgical masks – Must comply with AS/NZS 4381:2015 ‘Single use face masks for use in health care’ or an equivalent international standard.
b)      Respirator (P2/N95) – Must be non-valved particulate filter respirator (half-face piece with latex-free straps) for disposable use. Must comply with AS/NZS 1716:2012 ‘Respiratory protective devices’ or an equivalent international standard.
c)       Surgical gowns
d)      Surgical gloves
e)      Surgical goggles / eyewear
f)       Hand sanitisers
g)      Clinical waste bags
h)      Waste bag closure devices (ties)
i)        Blood and fluid spill kits
j)        Mask fit test kits
k)      Thermometers

Please read the tender information on AusTender, particularly as it relates to storage requirements, Australian standards and particulars for products regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as medical devices (e.g. surgical face masks). Please note responses to the Expression of Interest will close at 5pm AEDT on Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Should you be interested in other new tender opportunities, you can register with AusTender and elect to receive email notification of new open business opportunities and/or Planned Procurements.

ATO Customer Support

The ATO is also providing assistance to businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, including deferred payments and monthly GST credits.  These relief options will not be automatically applied, so you need to contact the ATO directly to discuss them. The ATO Emergency Support Infoline is available on 1800 806 218.

Fair Work Ombudsman – Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws

Find out about your workplace entitlements and obligations if you’re affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.

Fair Work encourage employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff. This may include taking different forms of leave, working from home, or taking extra precautions in the workplace.  If you have an urgent enquiry about your workplace entitlements or obligations, please contact us on 13 13 94 and select the prompt for the Coronavirus hotline.

Boosting Female Founders

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is now accepting Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for Round One of the Boosting Female Founders (BFF) Initiative.

The BFF Initiative aims to help female founders to access early stage capital to grow their startups in national and international markets.  The program will provide grants between $25,000 and $400,000 on a co-contribution basis to successful applicants. It will run over three years from 2020–21 to 2022–23, with $6 million available for Round One.  Eligible EOIs will be accepted until 14 April 2020 5pm AEST.

Eligible female founded (majority owned and led by women) startups can apply:

    • The startup must be at least 50 per cent women owned (equity or shares) and at least 50 per cent of the founding team or senior managers must be women.
    • A startup is an early stage, innovative or disruptive business that is working on a new or novel product, service or has a different business model. The startup must be scalable — able to grow quickly and has the potential to address large national and international markets.

The full eligibility criteria can be found in the program guidelines.

Visit business.gov.au/BFF for more information about the application process, including how to submit an EOI.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman – Video

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell talks about some of the things small businesses can do now to help their business stay afloat during this difficult time. Ms Carnell talks about the importance of doing a cash flow budget and talking to your suppliers, bank, landlord and the Australian Taxation Office about payments. It is also the time to consider staff and what they can contribute to your business.

 

NSW Government Support

The NSW Government has announced a state economic stimulus package. This includes:

  • $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20). This means these businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in 2019-20.
  • $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21
  • $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies (note that details are currently being finalised and will be published on the NSW Fair TradingSafeWork NSWLiquor & Gaming NSW and Service NSW websites).
  • $250 million to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings.
  • More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing.
  • $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.

Further information is being added to the NSW Government Website as it becomes available.

 

Support from Banks

If you’re dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, or facing the impacts of drought, bushfire or flood, there are practical ways your bank can help.

Australian banks have hardship teams ready to help you, depending on your circumstances.

Assistance could include:

  • deferring loan payments, waiving fees and charges,
  • helping with debt consolidation,
  • waiving penalties for early withdrawal of a term deposit, or
  • deferring upcoming credit card payments and increasing emergency limits.

You can contact your bank’s financial hardship team on the web or on the phone.

Get up to date information about COVID-19 and the Australian banking sector from the Australian Banking Association website.

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