With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 Virus, and the situation evolving by the hour, it is important for you to understand the Government support measures and how you might benefit from these. We have provided a summary of the key measures for you below.
Support for workers and households
The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next 6 months. Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.
An increase of up to 5,000 staff for Services Australia will assist to support delivery of new Government measures.
Payments to support households
In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced on 12 March 2020, the Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders, except for those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement.
This second payment will be made automatically from 13 July 2020 to around 5 million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those that benefit are pensioners.
The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 to people who will have been on one of the eligible payments any time between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.
Temporarily reduce superannuation minimum drawdown rates
The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Reducing social security deeming rates
On top of the deeming rate changes made at the time of the first package, the Government is reducing the deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points to reflect the latest rate reductions by the RBA.
As of 1 May 2020, the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent and the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent.
Early release of superannuation
The Government will allow individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months. They will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
Assistance for business to keep people in a job
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
Under the enhanced scheme from the first package, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020.
By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers.
The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.
Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to say in business
Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme
The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the coronavirus.
Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.
The Government’s support will enhance lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit to SMEs with the Scheme able to support $40 billion of lending to SMEs.
The Scheme will complement the announcement the Government has made to cut red-tape to allow SMEs to get access to credit faster. It also complements announcements made by Australian banks to support small businesses with their existing loans.
Providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus.
This builds on the support for business and business investment provided in the first economic support package, which included increasing the instant asset write off backing business investment by providing accelerated depreciation deductions supporting apprentices and trainees targeted support for Coronavirus-affected regions and communities.
Where to from here?
We are here to assist you with any enquiries you might have in regard to any of the above stimulus measures and provide you with more information as we gather all the details. We will be continuing to operate - albeit with some changes in enabling team members to work from home and conducting appointments or meeting via video conference or phone calls.
Please contact us should you need any assistance.