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Xero’s COVID-19 Business Support tool helps more Australians access financial help

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Matthew Prouse

Aug 19, 2021

This article was published on Thursday, 19 August 2021. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, you can find the information you need on government support at Service NSW, Business Queensland, Business Victoria, Business Tasmania, Business Recovery NT, or the SA Business Information Hub

Since the pandemic’s arrival, many Australian states have faced the ongoing challenge of shifting lockdowns. And as a result, several new support packages have been announced to help the millions of small business owners impacted by stay-at-home restrictions. For advisors, this comes with the challenge of navigating each grant’s eligibility requirements to work out if their clients qualify – sometimes, across multiple regions. 

Although the application criteria for each support measure differs state-by-state, most business owners must be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover in order to be eligible for financial assistance. Depending on the grant, a minimum threshold applies.

So to help make this calculation easier, Xero has updated its COVID-19 Business Support tool with customisable comparative date ranges. This means small businesses and their advisors can now use the tool to determine eligibility for all kinds of grants across Australia. Read on to learn where you can access it, and how it works. 

How do I use the COVID-19 Business Support tool?

In your Xero account under Accounting > Reports, you’ll notice the ‘JobKeeper Support’ tab has been updated to a ‘COVID-19 Business Support’ button. Click on this to access the new tool, followed by ‘Continue’ on the next page. From there, you’ll be able to calculate payment eligibility.

  1. Select the ‘Impacted period’ tab under the ‘turnover calculator’ heading. You can use this to select a start and end date from the dropdown calendar that appears. 
  2. Next, click on the ‘Compared to’ tab to choose the comparative date range for the same period in 2019 or 2020, or customise this selection by choosing your own start and end dates (which will depend on which grant you wish to apply for). This will automatically populate a revenue percentage change between the two periods you’ve selected.

A detailed summary, including statement lines from each comparable period, can be exported as an Excel spreadsheet or PDF to keep a record of, or to use alongside a letter of validation from a registered BAS agent or accountant (as required by some grants). 


So what revenue downturn benchmark applies in each state?

Some states impacted by lockdowns are offering several kinds of financial assistance measures, each with its own set of eligibility criteria. However, many regions have standardised the revenue downturn minimum to cover each payment type:

New South Wales

There are three key support payments available to those impacted by the Greater Sydney lockdown. Each of these require business owners to demonstrate at least a 30 percent decline in turnover across a minimum fortnightly period from 26 June 2021. This must be compared to one of three options: the same period in 2019, the same period in 2020, or the fortnight immediately before 26 June 2021.


To apply for the Small Business COVID Hardship Fund, you must be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 70 percent for a minimum consecutive fortnightly period since 27 May 2021 compared to a benchmark (or similar) date range in 2019. 


Those who qualify for the Queensland government’s 2021 COVID-19 Business Support grant must be able to demonstrate at least a 30 percent decline in turnover during a seven day period from when lockdown began (31 July 2021 for those in South East Queensland or 8 August for those impacted by the Cairns and Yarrabah stay-at-home restrictions). This must be compared to the same week-long period in July or August 2019, or another comparable date range in 2020 for new businesses. 

Australian Capital Territory

Those who qualify for the business support grant must be able to demonstrate a decline in turnover of at least 30 percent in the week from 13 to 20 August 2021, compared to the prior seven day period.

South Australia

The South Australian government is offering grants of up to $3,000 to employing businesses and $1,000 to non-employing businesses. To qualify, you must have experienced at least a 30 percent decline in turnover between 20 July and 26 July 2021 compared to the prior week. 

Northern Territory

Since the Northern Territory went into lockdown on 16 August 2021, its government announced a new round of funding for the Territory Business Lockdown Payment. Those who qualify could receive a one-off payment of $1,000 after demonstrating a minimum 50 percent decline in turnover as a direct result of the stay-at-home restrictions (among other eligibility criteria listed here).


Although Tasmania is not currently in lockdown, its government has announced support measures to help those impacted by ongoing border closures with some of the state’s biggest visitor markets. To qualify for a grant, businesses must have experienced at least a 30 percent decline in turnover since 26 July 2021, compared to the same period prior to that date. 


For more information on the types of support available across the country, check out this blog post, or keep an eye on the state government websites relevant to you or your clients. In the meantime, head to Xero’s business continuity hub for more resources and guidance on how to support your business during this challenging period.

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