22nd March, 2021
Australia is entering the next phase in the battle against COVID-19: more people will be eligible for vaccines and the $100 billion business subsidies scheme will end.
By the end of March, we will see changes to two significant government interventions used to protect Australians and businesses.
The success of the campaign to immunise the population is closely aligned to consumer confidence and business belief, as the focus continues to shift from pandemic survival to recovery.
The JobKeeper program was announced for six months and then extended to a full 12 months to give businesses time to plan ahead.
The scheme wraps up on 28 March. This looms as a significant test for many mid-market businesses.
As we’ve learnt from 2020, business certainty is beyond our control. There’s still an ongoing level of risk and disruption with the threat of border closures and lockdowns. COVID normal has become the new normal.
Business owners reliant on JobKeeper can’t assume their business will be viable once support stops, and should have strategies in place that look at finance options, revenue streams, tax obligations and contingency planning.
It’s important to consider best- and worst-case scenarios, and communicate with employees before JobKeeper ends.
Employee wages will revert back to pre-JobKeeper levels. For some, the amount currently received may differ from their regular pay rate.
Business employment requirements may also change, so it’s important to focus on flexibility when it comes to your workforce, if things are still looking shaky. Any changes should be discussed with your advisor.
To mitigate risks, any business owner facing the presence and eventual loss of a business should seek professional advice as early as possible.
In announcing the next step in the government’s National Economic Recovery Plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said new measures would target businesses, workers and regions still doing it tough.
The $1.2 billion support package offers a mix of half-price airline tickets, cheap loans for businesses and direct support to get Australians travelling while supporting tourism operators, businesses, travel agents and airlines.
Subsidised airfares to iconic holiday spots around Australia will be available from 1 April 2021.
In addition, some other initiatives launched during 2020 have also been extended beyond their initial end date, including an expanded SME Loan Guarantee Scheme and extension of the Business Events Grants Program.
The SME scheme includes 10 year loans of up to $5 million with the option of a 24-month repayment holiday. The loans will be available to businesses on JobKeeper between 4 January and 28 March.
In any case, if you’re in need of support post-JobKeeper, this is a reminder to look for and assess any available grants or other assistance available. Whether it’s a Federal, State or Local initiative.
Businesses had to adapt quickly and dramatically to the emergence of COVID-19 and the disruption came as a high economic cost.
It also accelerated the shift to digital technology in helping more businesses to start, survive and succeed. Some businesses were quick to move their business management processes online. And most embraced virtual meetings, digital payments and employees working remotely.
According to an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey last November, the greater the disruption to business operations, the more businesses will seize opportunities to reduce the impact. This is highlighted by growing interest in e-commerce and digital technology.
This trend was also identified in the MYOB Business Monitor Report, with 25 percent of businesses looking to increase the sale of products and services online.
COVID-19 is likely to have given many of the 1,000 small and medium businesses surveyed in this report a push into web-based trading.
It’s hard to predict what will happen this year. Planning ahead for businesses has become much more complicated.
But, for those with a digital mindset, with business processes already online and the desire to retain digital tools that helped many businesses over the last 12 months, they will have the best shot at navigating the second half of 2021 and beyond.
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