During the past weeks, the State Governments have passed legislation in line with the National Cabinet’s Commercial Leasing Code of Conduct announced earlier this month. The code applies to SME tenants and retailers meeting the eligibility criteria for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program (those businesses with annual revenue of less than $50 million) and are experiencing a more than 30% downturn in trade. The codes works on the basis that landlords work closely with their retailer partners to seek a reasonable arrangement.
NSW Government Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the changes will support and guide tenants and landlords in negotiating agreements.
“This is about adopting a national framework in NSW so agreements can be reached between parties and more businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs,” Tudehope said.
Most states and territories have also introduced substantial land tax concessions with hundreds of millions of dollars of relief announced across the board. For NSW, it is expected eligible landlords will be able to apply for land tax rebates from Service NSW from Monday, 4 May 2020.
The NSW Small Business Commission will be bolstered with extra staff and an injection of $10 million to deliver increased mediation and advisory services to support small businesses during this time.
Similarly, the Victorian Government has launched the $500 million Business Support Fund to support small businesses in the sectors hit hardest by coronavirus (COVID-19) so they can survive and keep people in work.
Eligible businesses can apply for a one-off $10,000 grant which can be used towards costs such as utilities, rent and salaries, and activities to support business continuity planning.
This also come as the Australian Taxation Office extends the time available for businesses to pay their employees, and still be able to claim back the first JobKeeper payments. Businesses suffering from a significant reduction in turnover due to COVID-19 will now have until 8 May 2020.
Leading business groups across Australia have called on the major banks to extend further support to struggling businesses during the COVID_19 crisis.
Industry associations spanning the business community acknowledged that lending institutions have already provided assistance, however, more substantial help for the longer term is needed to keep the economy moving during the current downturn.
Business group including the National Retail Association (NRA), Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) have detailed a list of options they’d like banking institutions to explore to helps businesses survive the unprecedented set of challenges.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that measures such as six-month interest deferrals were great, but more extensive remedies would be needed to prevent retail businesses from hitting the wall between now and the recovery phase.
“This is an unprecedented economic crisis and every lever available to keep businesses afloat needs to be pulled. Banking institutions have put in place some good measures, but they won’t be enough to stop many businesses and jobs being lost due to the Covid-19 crisis,” Lamb said.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said “Comprehensive assistance is required to keep the economy moving across all sectors. Retailers understand that banks can’t single-handedly save the economy, but they play an integral role in providing immediate and effective relief to businesses struggling to survive.”