COVID-19 updates

How is your social enterprise impacted by the Coronavirus?

SENVIC continues to work with government and industry partners nationally and locally to advocate for you as we respond to the impacts of COVID-19 (C-19).

Social distancing rules are devastating social enterprises across Australia with thousands of staff and contract workers losing income to prevent the spread of the C-19 virus.

The social enterprise community understands the importance of reducing the spread of C-19, but the government and the wider community must recognise the value of sustaining a thriving social enterprise community.  We need your help.

What can you do?

To maintain government support for social enterprise, head to www.thegoodnessgap.org to fill out a short survey on the impact of C-19 on your social enterprise. 

Use your voice NOW to raise awareness and expand our reach.

All social enterprise workers are urged to record a short message and let the government know about the impact of C-19 on your social enterprise.

  • What does your social enterprise do?
  • Who does it help?
  • What have you lost due to C-19?
  • Tell a story of hope: How have you adapted to the new normal? What opportunities have you discovered?

Upload your message on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and hashtags #thegoodnessgap and #beyondbusinessasusual.

 

Federal Government Response

The Federal Government has announced a series of support for businesses and NFPs (as at 31 March 2020).

New JobKeeper Payments:  Register here now.

The Australian Government has introduced a JobKeeper Payment of $1,500 per fortnight, per eligible employee, for up to 6 months. Key points to note are:

  • The JobKeeper Payment started on 30 March 2020, with the first payment to be received by employers in the first week of May. Employers must pass this payment on to their employees.
  • Eligible employers have faced >30% reduction in turnover and include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible and only need to have faced >15% reduction in turnover.
  • Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.
  • Employers must elect to participate in the scheme. You can do this on the ATO website
  • For more information on the JobKeeper Payment visit here. There is also an Employers Factsheet and an Employees Factsheet.

What’s also available so far –

  • PAYG/BAS payments can be deferred for up to 4 months without penalty (as long as they are lodged on time)
  • Existing debts with ATO can be deferred to reduce payments and interest
  • Debts from January will be interest free for up to 4 months (which can be backdated)
  • Boosting cash flow for employee wages and salaries (50% of PAYG withheld) Up to $25,000 over 6 months delivered through BAS relief. (Note the State Government’s payroll tax relief below).
  • Hardship arrangements for businesses who have shut down with taxation payments will be handled on a case-by-case scenario
  • Instant Asset Write off for up to $150,000
  • 15 month investment incentive to support short term business through accelerating depreciation deductions of 50% of asset costs.

Details and eligibility conditions are still emerging. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can phone the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

For the latest, go to https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus 

SENVIC joined our sister networks interstate to demand that rigid eligibility rules be relaxed so that social enterprises are not unintentionally excluded from support designed for traditional business or charity-focussed models. 

While government has responded to the national campaign, these measures will only go so far to mitigate the impacts felt now by social enterprises. SENVIC is particularly concerned for members who are small NFP, sole-traders, start-ups slipping through the SME packages and needing business support and guidance. We have asked for more information on how these packages can be adjusted to better suit the diverse range of business structures of social enterprises we represent.

Additionally, the federal government has also set aside $1 billion to assist regional communities disproportionately affected by the virus through education, tourism and agricultural industries. SENVIC will be advocating strongly for social enterprises to be included in the any additional relief funds. Details will be communicated in coming weeks.

Victorian Government Response

The Andrew’s government economic survival and jobs package complements the Federal Government support. As at 31 March 2020, supports include:

  • Payroll tax refund and deferral. Small and medium-sized businesses with total payroll of less than $3 million will be refunded payroll tax for the 2019-20 financial year. Payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year will be deferred until 1 January 2021. For more information visit www.sro.vic.gov.au 
  • Business Support Fund. A $500 million Business Support Fund will assist small to medium businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Register your interest here to receive more details as they become available.
  • $10,000 grants to eligible small businesses highly impacted by COVID-19. Applications are
    open for a limited time, so apply here now.
  • Helping homelessness. Almost $6 million will be provided to Victorian homelessness organisations to help protect Victorians at risk of or experiencing homelessness because of the COVID-19 virus and manage any outbreaks.
  • Liquor licensing relief. Licensing fees for 2020 will be waived for affected venues and small businesses. Visit www.vcglr.vic.gov.au
  • Some rent relief. Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief and 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses. For more information visit www.sro.vic.gov.au.
  • Government payment times. Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days.
  • Working for Victoria Fund. Displaced workers will be eligible to apply for different opportunities for paid work and to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this event and support the community. Register your interest to receive more details as they become available.

Business advice and financial support

Our friends at Social Traders provide advice and support to certified social enterprises and other useful information tailored for the sector, available here.

Our allies at the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have an excellent summary and links to factsheets  on Federal and Victorian Government programs and support. This can be accessed here.

If you are struggling to meet loan repayments, most banks have a financial hardship teams who exist to help you through this unprecedented time. Your bank has received significant support from the Federal Government and Reserve Bank to reduce the risk of loan defaults. In response, most Australian banks have agreed to defer repayments on loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak for six months.

There are many options (see here), negotiate a better deal first. Financial hardship contacts for most banks is available here, otherwise call your bank and ask for financial hardship options.

While the Federal Government is permitting access to superannuation immediately, before other supports become available, we strongly discourage you from doing so at this time. Your super is your future, access all other options first.

The Small Business Mentoring Service offers low-cost sessions with a diverse range of mentors that can help you to navigate difficult business decisions, prepare business continuity plans, review your business strategy or revise your business plans. Or a free 45-minute session with an experienced business adviser is available via the Small Business Bus. Note that these services are geared to mainstream business models, not social enterprise.

For further C-19 information and business support, go to www.business.vic.gov.au

Workplace impacts

We encourage employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff. For information and assistance on any aspect of your employment obligations, the Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations Advice Line (03) 8662 5222 can help.

Advocacy with Philanthropy Australia

Philanthropy Australia is joining forces with other social sector peak bodies, led by the Community Council of Australia, to request Federal Government assistance for the charitable sector.

To assist with their lobbying efforts, we are sharing information for case studies that highlight how the work of your organisation is impacted by C-19 challenges. If you are a NFP/charity and operating a social enterprise, please let us know at www.thegoodnessgap.org and we will use your case studies where appropriate in support of Philanthropy Australia’s campaign. Alternatively, contact Philanthropy Australia’s Policy and Research Director, Sarah Wickham.

Self-help first

It is healthy to talk about the stress and trauma caused directly or indirectly by this virus. The mental load is significant and you need to look after yourself to look after others.

Other resources

SENVIC have tried to relay as much information as we can from trusted sources relevant to social enterprise.

For more information from trustworthy and reliable sources, you can visit:

  • The School for Social Entrepreneurs (The Coronavirus – How social enterprises and charities can prepare).
  • The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.  You can also sign up for their newsletter.