25th October, 2022
Here are the top-line items from the Federal Budget that hold the most interest for most Australian businesses, from childcare, to skills and targeted mental health support.
Describing it as a “responsible budget that is right for the times,” Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers handed down a budget that recognised Australians and businesses for being “practical and pragmatic” toward the challenges faced in recent years.
The Federal Budget, dubbed “responsible, affordable [and] sustainable”, included a raft of measures that did their best to balance inflationary pressure with the needs of Australian businesses.
Here, we share the key points from the Budget that hold the most relevance to Australia’s sole traders, contractors and small business operators.
Perhaps the most significant measure in the Budget was an investment of $4.9 million (and $1.7 million per year ongoing) to expand the Child Care Subsidy.
The maximum rate of the subsidy will increase from 85 percent to 90 percent, then decrease by one percent for every $5,000 of household income.
The change will deliver up to 1.4 million hours per week in paid hours worked by women with young children, and the equivalent of an extra 37,000 full-time workers re-entering the workforce each year.
The provision of 480,000 fee-free TAFE courses and 20,000 additional university placements has been specifically designed to target the areas experiencing the greatest skills shortages.
While it will be some time before these graduates are employable to businesses, it works to increase the flow of highly skilled workers entering the workforce.
In further action on labour shortages, $42.2 million over two years will be invested in increasing the efficiency of visa processing for skilled workers.
Increased mobility of skilled labour is set to have a significant impact on businesses struggling to find and retain staff.
A growing need for digital upskilling, investment and capability will benefit from a digital traineeship program.
Supporting mid-career transitions into digital roles, the $11.5 million investment over four years could help small and medium businesses access experienced workers with up-to-date digital training. The measure is in addition to the Digital Skills Boost announced by the previous Government in March, which is yet to be legislated.
Addressing the significant toll the last few years has taken on business owners, the Budget includes a $10.9 million investment into small business mental health support. This will be delivered by Beyond Blue.
The service, known as NewAccess for Small Business Owners, is free to use and doesn’t require a GP referral or Mental Health Plan.
An additional $4 million has been allocated to the Small Business Debt Helpline, which is a free service operated by Financial Counselling Australia, to help business owners manage debt.
More businesses will soon be able to access the infrastructure they need to increase digital capability and connectivity, with a further 1.5 million premises to get fibre-ready access by 2025.
MYOB research recently revealed that small business owners say unreliable internet is a barrier in the adoption of digital tools, with 28 percent saying challenges in accessing NBN, or a stable internet connection, prevent them from using digital tools.
In less promising news for small businesses, an extension to the instant asset write off was not included in the Budget.
This means the popular full expensing facility that has been extended and expanded since its inception in 2017 will now end on 30 June 2023, which could impact business’ investment in equipment, tech and assets this side of 2023/24 financial year.
However, the previously announced Small Business Technology Investment Boost remains a benefit to businesses investing in digital capabilities, which is currently a proposal under consideration.