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An update on COVID-19

This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

A guide to the Government’s coronavirus stimulus and economic response

Looking after your business

Much of what is happening around the coronavirus may feel uncertain. Here is a summary of the Australian Government’s economic response and various coronavirus stimulus packages, the areas that have been targeted, together with some key resources to check for further information.

JobKeeper payment

Support for businesses

Supporting the flow of credit

Supporting individuals and households

Important resources

JobKeeper Payment

JobKeeper wage subsidy

What: A “JobKeeper” wage subsidy to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses significantly impacted by the Coronavirus. Extension: On 21 July, the Government extended the JobKeeper Payment for a further six months until 28 March 2021. The existing JobKeeper Payment will remain in place until 27 September 2020. From 28 September 2020, payments rates will be stepped-down and two tiers of payments will be introduced. See ATO for more information. Eligibility: Employees:
  • The payment will apply to full-time, part-time and casual workers, as well as sole traders.
  • Casual workers must have been with their employers for 12 months or more.
  • Employees must be on the books as at 1 July (previously 1 March, they may have since been fired but can be reinstated)
Employers
  • Businesses with turnover under $1 billion, if they have taken a 30% revenue decrease.
  • Businesses with turnover over $1 billion, if they have taken a 50% revenue decrease.
  • Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission-registered charities (excluding schools and universities), if they have taken a 15% revenue decrease.
  • The business is not subject to the Major Bank levy.
  • From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits will be required to reassess their eligibility with reference to actual turnover in the June and September quarters 2020.
  • UPDATE: Given the Victoria resurgence and lockdown, eligibility requirements are being relaxed to only show declines in turnover in the September quarter. After 4 January, businesses will only have to show a fall in the December quarter instead of each of the June, September and December quarters.
How much:
  • Eligible businesses will receive a flat payment equal to $1,500 per employee per fortnight for up to 6 months.
  • From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the payment rate will be:
  • $1,200 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average, and for eligible business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and
  • $750 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.
  • From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021, the JobKeeper Payment rates will be:
  • $1,000 per fortnight for all eligible employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020, were working in the business or not-for-profit for 20 hours or more a week on average and for business participants who were actively engaged in the business for 20 hours or more per week on average in the month of February 2020; and
  • $650 per fortnight for other eligible employees and business participants.
How: 1. Register your interest with the ATO 2. Administered via tax / single touch payroll (STP)system 3. If your business does not have STP, speak to your accountant When: 1 May 2020, backdated to 1 March 2020. Fact sheets: Extension of the JobKeeper Payment Supporting businesses to retain jobs Information for Employers Information for Employees

Support for businesses

1.
Boosting cash flow for employers

What: Cash flow support to businesses and not-for-profits so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.

Eligibility: Businesses with prior year turnover of less than $50 million that held an ABN as of 12 March 2020 and employ staff between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020.

  • Eligible employers that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a payment equal to 100% of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $50,000.
  • Eligible employers that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $10,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax.
  • Eligible entities will also receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received.

How much: Eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

How: Payments to be delivered by the ATO as an automatic credit within 14 days.

When: From 28 April 2020, additional payments from 21 July 2020 to October.

Fact sheets: Boosting cash flow for employers Extension of the JobKeeper Payment

2.
Credit and loans

What:The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which provides SME lenders with a 50% guarantee to support new short-term unsecured loans for businesses to meet cash flow needs through lower interest rates.

Eligibility: Available to SMEs, including sole traders and not-for-profits, with a turnover of up to $50 million.



Conditions:
  • Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower.
  • Loans will be for up to 3 years, with an initial six month repayment holiday.
  • Unsecured finance.
From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021, the payment rate will be:
  • Loans can be used for a broader range of business purposes, including to support investment in a period of economic recovery.
  • The maximum loan size will be increased to $1 million per borrower.
  • Loans can be up to 5 years with the six month repayment holiday will be at the discretion of the lender. .
  • A loan can be either unsecured or secured (excluding commercial or residential property).



When:
  • First phase: New loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.
  • Second phase: from 1 October 2020 until 30 June 2021.

For more information: See Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme See GetCapital’s Scheme Loan products

3.
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

What: To help businesses get through a temporary period of insolvency, by temporarily providing higher thresholds and more time to respond to demands from creditors and providing temporary relief from directors’ personal insolvent trading liability.

How: ATO

Fact sheet: Providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

4.
Increasing and extending the instant asset write-off

What: Lifts the threshold to $150,000 (from $30,000), and makes more businesses eligible to claim deductions for company asset, vehicle and equipment purchases.

Eligibility: Businesses with aggregate annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) per year.

When: On 9 June 2020, the Government announced a six month extension to 31 December 2020

Fact sheet: Delivering support for business investment For more information, read this instant asset write-off guide for business owners.

5.
Backing business investment

What: Offers businesses a time-limited, 15-month investment incentive by accelerating depreciation deductions, allowing businesses to deduct an additional 50% of the asset cost in the year of purchase. Designed to support businesses sticking with planned investments, encouraging them to bring investments forward to support short-term economic growth.

Eligibility: Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million

Eligible assets: New assets first used and installed by 30 June 2021 can be depreciated (plant, equipment, and specified intangible assets such as patents).

When: Immediately through 30 June 2021

Fact sheet: Delivering support for business investment

6.
Supporting apprentices and trainees

What: Wage assistance to help small businesses to keep their apprentices and trainees.

Eligibility: Support for small businesses: from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020:

  • Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months. The subsidy will be available to small businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee. The apprentice or trainee must have been in training with a small business as at 1 March 2020.
Support for small and medium businesses: from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021:
  • This is an expansion and extension of the subsidy. From 1 July 2020, the subsidy will be available to support small and medium businesses with fewer than 200 employees that retain an Australian Apprentice engaged as at 1 July 2020. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the 9 months period.


How much: Up to a maximum $21,000 per eligible apprentice ($7,000 per quarter)

How: Paid directly to companies after assessment by an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider

When: early April

Fact sheet: Cash flow assistance for business

7.
Severely affected regions/sectors

What: $1 billion in financial support to help regions and communities most affected by the Coronavirus to recover. The stimulus includes ATO Administrative Relief for obligations on a case-by-case basis. The COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund provides initial support to Australian airline industry and airports up to $715 million of relief from a range of taxes and Government charges (from 1 February to 30 September), in addition to Fisheries, Arts Industry and Export Market Development.

Eligibility: Affected communities and industries including tourism, agriculture and education. Waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses operating in Great Barrier Reef National Park and Commonwealth National Parks

When: As soon as practicable

Fact sheets: Assistance for severely affected regions and sectors COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund

Supporting flow of credit

1. Support for immediate cash flow needs for SMEs

What: To establish a loan guarantee arrangement between the Government and participating banks to cover the immediate cash flow needs of SMEs. The Commonwealth will guarantee 50% of an eligible loan to small business impacted by the virus.

Eligibility: Banks, non-bank lenders, SMEs, sole traders and not-for-profits with less than $50 million turnover per year, must be new or existing customers, no refinancing of existing customers.

Loan Terms: From April to 30 September 2020:

  • Up to 3 years and granted within the next 6 months, starting 1 April 2020, repayment-free for 6 months. Unsecured, for working capital.
From 1 October 2020:

  • Loans can be used for a broader range of business purposes, including to support investment in a period of economic recovery.
  • The maximum loan size will be increased to $1 million per borrower.
  • Loans can be up to 5 years with the six month repayment holiday will be at the discretion of the lender.
  • A loan can be either unsecured or secured (excluding commercial or residential property).

How much: Up to $1 million

When: Early April and available for new loans until 30 June 2021

Fact sheet: Supporting the flow of credit

2. Quick and efficient access to credit for small business

What: Temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders.

3. RBA – supporting the flow and reducing the cost of credit

What: A term funding facility for the banking system where Banks will have access to at least $90 billion in funding at a fixed interest rate of 0.25% to support households and businesses. A further easing in the cash rate to 0.25% is meant to encourage additional lending.

4. Support for non-ADI and smaller ADI lenders in the securitisation market

What: Provides the Australian Office of Financial Management with an investment capacity of $15 billion to invest in structured finance markets used by smaller lenders and non-ADIs.

5. APRA – ensuring banks are well placed to lend

What: The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority has made temporary changes to its expectations regarding bank capital ratios. The changes will support banks’ lending to customers, particularly if they wish to take advantage of the new facility being offered by the RBA.

Support for individuals and households

1. JobKeeper Payment

What:A wage subsidy to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses significantly impacted by the coronavirus.

Eligibility: The reference date for assessing which employees are eligible is 1 July 2020 with effect from 3 August 2020. The reference period for employees regarding their hours worked to determine their tier of payment will be the two fortnightly pay periods prior to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020. The period with the higher number of hours is to be used for employees who were eligible at 1 July 2020 (previously 1 March).

How much: Please see the JobKeeper Payment fact sheet below for payment rate tiers.

When: Current payments are unchanged and available until 27 September 2020. The Government extended the JobKeeper Payment for a further six months until 28 March 2021.

Fact sheet: JobKeeper Payment Extension

2. Additional child care subsidy

What: A short-term Government payment to help families experiencing significant financial stress with the cost of child care.

Eligibility: Available to families who are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, and where someone is experiencing temporary financial hardship due to:

  • Death of a partner, or child;
  • Unexpected loss of employment, income of the individual or a partner;
  • Adversely affected by extreme circumstances or domestic violence.

How much: Entitled to receive up to 100 hours of subsidised childcare per fortnight. The subsidy will be equal to the fee charged by the child care service, up to 120% of the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap, whichever is lower.

How: Through Centrelink

When: Apply within six months of the date of the hardship event.

Fact sheet: Additional Child Care Subsidy

3. Income support for individuals

What: Non-income tested coronavirus supplement payment and income support of $550 per fortnight

Eligibility: Both existing and new recipients of JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. The Government is expanding eligibility for JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance, waiving the ordinary waiting period and providing access if you’re:

  • a permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job
  • a sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced
  • caring for someone who’s affected by coronavirus.
From 25 September 2020, the asset test and Liquid Assets Waiting Period will be reintroduced.

When:

Phase 1: Over six months, starting on 27 April 2020 until 24 September 2020.

Phase 2: $250 per fortnight until 31 December 2020.

Fact sheet: Income support for individuals

4. Payments to support households

What: Two separate tax-free $750 cash payments that will not count as income to help support confidence and domestic demand in the economy.

Eligibility: Pensioners, students, working-age welfare and social security recipients, parents, veterans and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders

When:

  1. First payment: from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020
  2. Second payment: from 10 July 2020 (individuals also eligible for the Coronavirus supplement payment do not qualify for this second payment)

Fact sheet: Payments to support households

5. Temporary early release of superannuation

What: Individuals and sole traders, can access up to $20,000 in super tax-free.

Eligibility:

  • You are unemployed; or
  • You are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance;

Or

  • On or after 1 January 2020:
    – you were made redundant; or
    – your working hours were reduced by 20% or more; or
    – if you are a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more.

How much:
$10,000 in 2019-2020
$10,000 in 2020-2021
How: Applications through the ATO via www.my.gov.au

Fact sheet: Early access to superannuation

6. Temporary reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates

What: Reduces the need for account-based pensions to sell investment assets to fund minimum superannuation drawdown requirements by 50% for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years.

Eligibility: Retirees with account-based pensions

Fact sheet: Support for retirees

7. Reducing social security deeming rates

What: Lowers the social security deeming rates by 0.75% in response to the low interest rate environment.

Eligibility: Income support recipients, age pensioners

Fact sheet: Support for retirees

8. HomeBuilder

What:HomeBuilder provides eligible owner-occupiers with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home.

Eligibility: Owner-occupiers (including first home buyers)

When: When the relevant State or Territory Government you live in signs the National Partnership Agreement with the Commonwealth Government.

Fact sheet: HomeBuilder

Important resources

Australian Government’s Economic Response:
Visit the Treasury website

Treasury’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit: Visit the Treasury website

Government’s specific measures for businesses:
Visit the Government’s Business website

Australian Taxation Office:
Visit the ATO website

The latest Government updates, news and response:
Visit the Government’s website

The latest health information: 
Visit the Department of Health website

Updates from the Prime Minister: 
Prime Minister of Australia website

Find out more

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