JobKeeper 1.0 and 2.0
The original JobKeeper program was scheduled to end on 27 September 2020. Due to continuing uncertainty and the effects of the continued hard lockdown in Victoria (which ended on 27 October), the JobKeeper was extended until 28 March 2021. While the original program included $1,500 per fortnight income support, the new version was reduced to $1,200 per fortnight.
As the economy recovered, the number of workers on JobKeeper dropped by 56% between April and September (the first phase) and October and December (partially through the second phase). While Western Australia had the largest decrease in JobKeeper recipients (70%), Victoria had the lowest decrease at 44%. These figures varied sharply between industries. Healthcare and Social Assistance (-78%) and Wholesale Trade (-71%) saw the largest decreases in Jobkeeper recipients, while Arts and Recreation (-37%) and Transport, Postal and Warehousing (-36%) saw the smallest decreases.
JobMaker as small business government assistance
This program was introduced as part of the 2020 federal budget and offers payments to businesses that increase staff numbers by hiring young workers between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021. Hiring credits are available for new employees who have received payments from the government. These are $200 per week for employees between the ages of 16 and 29, and $100 per week for employees between 30 and 35. The total amounts businesses can claim are up to $10,400 for additional employees in the younger age group and $5,200 for additional employees in the older group.
Full eligibility criteria for employers considering JobMaker can be found on the ATO website.
Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements
To assist businesses to recover from the economic effect of the pandemic, the Commonwealth Government introduced Boosting Apprenticeships Commencements program. It applies to any group training organisation or business that hires an apprentice from 5 October 2021 and provides a 50 per cent wage subsidy to a maximum of $7,000 per quarter. The original program will be in effect until 30 September 2021 and has been budgeted to support 100,000 apprentices across Australia. In March 2021, the Federal Government announced it would extend the program for 12 months for new apprentices and trainees signed up before 30 September 2021.
Get more information on this program from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
Modern Manufacturing Initiative
The Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) was created to help manufacturing businesses to scale up and create jobs to boost manufacturing capability, drive collaboration, and identify new opportunities to access domestic and global supply chains. Under the program, $1.3 billion in funding will be available to manufacturers in six sectors – Space, Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing, Food and Beverage, Medical Products, Recycling and Clean Energy, and Defence – on a co-investment basis covering up to 50 per cent of project cost.
The MMI includes several streams. One stream (manufacturing translation) helps Australian manufacturers translate high-quality research and ideas into commercial outcomes. Another stream (manufacturing integration) helps Australian manufacturers to access domestic and global supply chains and produce and distribute quality products and high-value services into them.
Applications for businesses manufacturing for the space sector and medical products sectors have opened, with the others to follow throughout 2021. Program updates are available at business.gov.au.
Instant Asset Write-Off expansion
The Instant Asset Write-Off began in 2011 and the maximum asset amount has been increased several times. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government announced an increase in the instant asset write-off by removing the $150,000 per asset limit. This will be in effect until 30 June 2022.
By using the write-off, businesses can reduce their taxes in the year the asset was purchased instead of depreciating the asset over several years. Although not a direct subsidy to businesses, it can help by bringing forward deductions in the current financial year, reducing tax owed.
Find out more in How to Use the Extended Instant Asset Write-Off.
Additional small business government assistance by state and territory
In addition to Federal Government support, each state and territory is offering small business government assistance.
New South Wales support includes the Jobs Plus, the Business Events Grants, export assistance grants, regional job creation fund, and many other programs through Service NSW.
The Northern Territory offers several grants and assistance programs including the Business Hardship Package and the Small Business JobMaker Boost.
Queensland offers a minimum of $2,000 and up to a maximum of $10,000 per eligible small or micro business through its Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grant Program. Although Round 1 for South East Queensland business has closed, Round 2 for regional businesses is still open.
South Australia is providing tax rebates, wage subsidies, grants and other supports to businesses impacted by the pandemic. Details are available at the SA Business Information Hub.
Tasmania provides several COVID-19 business support programs, including the Business Growth Loan Scheme and Small Business Regional Referral Support Program. Here’s the full list of Tasmania’s COVID-19 Business Support Grants and Loans.
In Victoria, business support programs include a $143 million support package for businesses affected by the snap lockdown between the 13th and 17th of February. Others include the Small Business Digital Adaptation Program and Business Resilience Package. Complete details are available at Business Victoria.
In Western Australia, business support programs include a $43 million package for small businesses and charities affected by the 31 January 2021 five-day lockdown, including an electricity bill offset, $17,500 grants for small businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million, plus many other programs are listed by the WA Small Business Development Corporation.
Potential revenue-contingent business loan scheme
There has been some discussion about a revenue-contingent loan scheme that has been promoted by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO). The government-funded scheme would be similar to HECS in that it would only require to start repaying loans when their turnover reaches a designated threshold. To be eligible, applicants would need to satisfy a viability test conducted by an accredited adviser. No decision has been made regarding this form of small business government assistance.
Continuously changing support
Over the past 12 months the federal and state governments have acted quickly to adapt to changing conditions, so you’ll want to regularly check for updates of small business government assistance programs.
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