March 20, 2020
Small businesses have been reminded again about the range of State and Federal government aids in place to help them survive the COVID-19 crisis.
The State Government has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) to deliver assistance.
Small Business Minister Shannon Fentiman said extra services would be available over the next three months for small businesses that are in desperate need.
“CCIQ’s business support line has been inundated with calls from businesses seeking assistance,” Ms Fentiman said.
“We are supporting CCIQ with $360,000 to run a proactive outreach to small businesses and expand the capacity of their call centre.
“Not only will they be able to provide personalised and professional business advice, but they will offer the assistance needed during this time as we know mental health is also a key concern.”
“The focus will be in the regions where fewer businesses have access to high-level employer advice.”
CCIQ will support non-members with information on:
CCIQ CEO Stephen Tait said more than 400 new businesses had registered with the Chamber in the past 10 days and hundreds more had called seeking advice and assistance to prevent staff from being let go and business closures.
“We are hearing from businesses daily who are needing to make hard decisions regarding their business and staff. Due to the immediacy of restrictions and changes, many are unsure of what to do,” he said.
“Our dedicated team of HR and IR experts are working extremely hard to respond to an enormous amount of calls providing that first line of advice and practical support to help guide them through.”
Ms Fentiman said more than 3500 small businesses had also contacted the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training for advice.
“We have already announced businesses affected by the coronavirus can apply for a relief package to defer lodging and paying payroll tax returns until July 31, 2020,” she said.
“And the Treasurer announced $500 million was available in interest-free loans of up to $250,000 to support businesses to keep Queenslanders in work.
“The need for assistance escalates each day with increasing numbers of businesses reaching out for help.”
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien reminded businesses that support is available to small and medium-sized businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak through the Federal Government’s business hotline.
He said operation of the business.gov.au 13-28-46 call centre has been extended to seven days per week, and calls were now being answered between 7:00am to 11:00pm AEST.
“Local business people don’t need the added stress of trying to identify and work their way through the range of assistance that is available, on top of trying make a living for themselves and their staff. The call centre can provide advice on the initiatives that can help businesses through the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.
A range of new assistance initiatives have been introduced by the Federal Government to help businesses, including a boost to cash flow, increasing the instant asset write-off threshold, a business investment incentive and wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees.
My Business Health, a website designed to provide support to small business owners, now features a dedicated section for those struggling with the COVID-19 crisis.
Australian Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell said she had been inundated with distressing stories of small businesses decimated by the ripple-effects of coronavirus.
“Small businesses are in a world of pain right now, with many forced to close their doors and others fighting to survive,” she said.
“My Business Health offers simple and practical information to help small businesses find their way through this difficult time.
“This includes the latest information on government support measures as well as assistance with employer obligations, finances, available government payments, loans and tax.
“There are also a number of resources by leading mental health organisations such as Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Everymind that deal with the impact of COVID-19 specifically.
“Personally, I want the Australian small and family business community to know that despite these extraordinary challenges we are now facing, this is temporary and there will come a day when our lives and livelihoods return to normal.”