We'll continue to update this page with resources and information as new details emerge in the world's response to COVID-19.
It's been a rocky start to the new decade for Aussie businesses, to say the least. Businesses still recovering from the impact of the bushfires are now having to face cancelled events, dwindling customers and supply chain disruptions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It's taking a real toll on companies, particularly SMEs.
If you're a business owner and you're facing financial issues as a result of the pandemic, there might be low or no-cost financing options that can help. Find out more about what business loan options are available during the coronavirus outbreak below.
Update: 20 March 2020
A Small Business Relief Package has been announced for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The relief package, which has been authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and implemented by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and the banks, will defer all principal and interest payments for loans to small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. It is available to businesses in any sector.
Any small business who has not already been contacted by their bank about the Small Business Relief Package is being urged to get in touch with their bank. Banks have already begun contacting their customers and the packages will start rolling out in full on Monday.
Where to find financial help for your business during the coronavirus outbreak
The ATO, national and state governments and the banks are offering businesses various forms of support during this time of crisis.
Business owners who are struggling as a result of coronavirus impact are being offered help by the ATO. If you need help paying your existing and ongoing tax liabilities for your business, you can contact the ATO to discuss a low interest payment plan. The ATO is also allowing businesses to defer tax payments for 4-6 months.
As of 12 March 2020 and until 30 June 2020, the ATO has also increased the instant asset tax write-off from $30,000 to $150,000 and the qualifying turnover bracket from $50 million per year to $500 million per year. This means that any business with an annual turnover of $500 million or less can instantly write-off any business purchase under $150,000.
National and state governments
The Australian government is making attempts to support small businesses throughout this time. Updates regarding assistance and taxation changes for SMEs are being made regularly. You can find out what your options are here.Updates are as follows:
A further $66 billion stimulus package was announced to aid citizens and small businesses during the outbreak.
Update 30 March 2020:
The government has announced a $130 billion wage subsidy package to support businesses and employees. Businesses may be eligible to receive up to $1,500 per employee on a fortnightly basis. This would then be passed on in full to eligible workers.
New business loans backed by the government are currently being made available to businesses across Australia. These government-backed business loans under the recently announced Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, are loans of up to $250,000 that are available to eligible Australian SMEs. These loans will all be unsecured with terms of up to three years with no repayments required for six months. There will also be no interest charged on these loans for unused funds - borrowers are only charged on what they draw down. Loans under this scheme also have no fees attached. The following banks are participating in this scheme:
ANZ has confirmed that it will be participating with the scheme. However, it is still finalising how it is planning on providing government-backed loans to its customers.
CommBank announced that it would be making up to $10 billion in funds available for extra small business loans in line with the scheme. The bank also said that interest rates on the new unsecured loans would be 5 percentage points lower than normal.
NAB has also agreed to partake in the government's Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme. Business loans up to $250,000 will be available from NAB at a rate of 4.5% with no repayments for the first six months.
Suncorp also announced that it will be taking part in the scheme, but is still finalising the details of its loans.
Please note that new banks are still pending approval for participation in this scheme.
The Small Business Relief Package
The ACCC has provided an urgent interim authorisation which will allow the ABA and Australian banks to implement a small business relief package. This package will allow banks to defer principal and interest payments for loans to small businesses for six months if they have been affected by COVID-19.
Businesses with existing loans are encouraged to get in touch with their bank if they haven't been contacted about their loans yet.
How the Small Business Relief Package will work
If your business is eligible for relief, your principal and interest payments will be delayed on all term and retail loans for a 6-month period. At the end of the period, you will not be required to pay the deferred interest in a lump sum. To repay the loan, the term of the loan will be extended or your repayments will be increased.
Banks can also choose to offer more favourable and tailored terms to small businesses who experience financial hardship.
Is my bank offering the Small Business Relief Package? The banks which have agreed to participate include the following:
Bank of Queensland (BoQ)
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Can I qualify?
The relief package is available to small businesses affected by COVID-19 in any sector. You need to have less than $3 million in total debt owed to credit providers.
How do I apply?
Banks have already started reaching out to their customers about the package and it will start rolling out in full on Monday. If you have not heard from your bank, you can get in contact with them directly.
Queensland is offering $500 million in loans
Queensland is currently offering interest-free loans of up to $250,000 to businesses. These loans are available interest-free for 12 months and aim to help businesses cover costs and keep staff employed.
Tasmania is offering $20 million in small business support loans
The Tasmanian government has allocated $20 million towards interest-free loans for hospitality, tourism, seafood and export businesses with an annual turnover of less than $5 million. You can apply for a loan to purchase equipment or restructure business operations, with a maximum interest-free period of up to three years.
How to protect your business and employees during the coronavirus outbreak
As a business owner, it's your responsibility to take measures to protect your employees during this time.
Send sick employees home. This one goes without saying, but if someone is showing symptoms, they should be sent home immediately.
Remote working. If your employees can work from home, it's advisable to allow them to. People can carry the virus without showing symptoms. Slack, Zoom and Skype are your new best friends.
Disinfect the workplace. If your employees can't work from home, it's important to keep a clean environment. Ensure that common areas and surfaces are clean, especially door handles, desks and keyboards. And stock up on hand sanitiser.
Leave reminders on hygiene. While most people shouldn't require a reminder, some may. Hang posters reminding employees to wash their hands frequently and sneeze and cough into tissues. Encourage employees to avoid handshakes and contact where possible.
Apply for financing. Even if you're unsure as to whether you may need finance right now, things can take a turn for the worse very quickly. Ensure the safety of your employees by applying for a government grant, interest-free loan or business loan.
Compare small business loans
Updated April 6th, 2020
Frequently asked questions
Eligibility for a loan or business grant is generally based on the circumstances of your business, rather than your personal credit history. However, having bad credit may affect your likelihood of being accepted for finance. Fortunately, bad credit business loan options are available.
No. The ATO has put a 4-month deferral on tax payments (including PAYG instalments) across the country.
Yes. However, the government recommends that people facing unemployment ought to try and seek out alternative employment as soon as possible, rather than claim benefits.
Need to save some quick cash?
If you're struggling to keep up with your finances - you're not alone. You can save plenty of cash by doing some simple admin with your bills and expenses. Maybe switching credit cards or downgrading your mobile phone plan could save some money.
Bria Horne is a writer for Finder, with a specialist knowledge of personal loans, car loans and business loans. Originally from the UK, Bria has been a professional personal finance writer in Australia for over 2 years. She has an M.A and B.A in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Sussex, and previously worked on the UK’s leading hospitality publication.
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