This article was first published on Wednesday 2 February 2022 and updated on Tuesday 22 February 2022. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, you can find the information you need on government support at business.gov.au.
Recently, small businesses have faced a fresh wave of pandemic disruption. As a result, various state governments have announced new or extended support packages to help business owners feeling the effects of Omicron.
Faced with shadow lockdowns, supply issues, staff shortages and ongoing uncertainty, financial assistance will offer some welcome relief to those experiencing pandemic pressures. However, demonstrating the required revenue decline to qualify for support can be a challenge. So to help you – small businesses – and your advisors, Xero has updated our COVID-19 Business Support tool. Read on to learn how it works, where you can find it, and what you need to know about the new (and existing) grant options available.
How do I use the COVID-19 Business Support tool?
In your Xero account under Accounting > Reports, you’ll notice 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.
- 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.
- Next, click on the ‘compared to’ tab to choose the comparative date range for the same period in 2019, 2020, 2021, 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 for your records.
Should I work with an advisor to apply?
Working with an advisor to apply for a grant is always a good idea. An accountant or bookkeeper can recommend which programs your business could be eligible for, and help you get your records up to date. However, be sure to give them as much time as possible to do so for the best chance at a successful application.
Keep in mind that some guidelines for new or extended schemes are yet to be announced. This means not all applications are currently open, and your advisor might not have all the information they need to help you just yet. Remember to be patient, as it can take time to unpack the latest developments. Be sure to check your relevant state government website for the latest updates.
Tell me about the new grants available to businesses impacted by Omicron
Currently, NSW, SA, Tasmania and the ACT have extended or created new support packages to help small businesses weather the effects of Omicron. Each grant has its own set of eligibility criteria, outlined below.
New South Wales
On 30 January 2022, the Small Business Support Program was announced to help business owners who have been hardest hit by the current COVID-19 situation. Those eligible could receive 20 per cent of their weekly payroll cost as a one-off payment later in February. The minimum payment benchmark is $750 per week, while the maximum is $5,000 per week. Non-employing businesses could be eligible to receive $500 per week, paid as a $2,000 lump sum. To qualify at this stage, applicants must:
- have an aggregated annual turnover of between $75,000 and $50 million as of 30 June 2021
- have experienced at least a 40 per cent turnover decline during January 2022, compared to January 2021 or 2020
- and experienced at least a 40 per cent turnover decline from 1 to 14 February 2022 as a result of Omicron disruption, compared to the same fortnight in February of 2021 or 2020
- employing businesses must maintain their employee headcount as at 30 January 2022
Applications for the Small Business Support Program are set to open in mid-February, once businesses are able to determine their revenue decline for the 1 to 14 February period.
Additionally, the existing Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate scheme will be increased by 50 per cent from $2,000 to $3,000. This means business owners could be eligible to receive a rebate up to $3,000 to cover some operational expenses, now including up to 50 per cent of the cost of rapid antigen tests (RATs). For more information, and to apply before 30 June 2022, visit Service NSW.
In December 2021, SA announced a Tourism, Hospitality and Gym grant to help small businesses in these respective sectors manage pandemic disruption. On 29 January, it was announced this program will be extended for a second round. Those eligible could receive up to $3,000 (for employing businesses) or $1,000 (for non-employing businesses), with additional funds available to those operating in Adelaide’s CBD or tourism and hospitality sectors.
Successful recipients of this grant do not need to reapply for round two – payments will automatically be made. For new applicants (or those who were unsuccessful in round one) to qualify, you must:
- have experienced a 30 per cent turnover decline for the period of 10 to 30 January 2022, compared to an equivalent 20 day period in 2021 or 2020
For businesses outside the tourism, hospitality and gym industries, additional funding will extend into February for the existing Business Hardships Grant. This will provide additional financial support (with extra funds available for those in Adelaide’s CBD) of up to $11,000 for SA business owners who:
- have experienced a 50 per cent turnover decline for the month of February 2022, compared to the same period in 2021 or 2020
Like the Tourism, Hospitality and Gym grant, successful first round recipients of the Business Hardships Grant will automatically receive the additional round payment and do not need to reapply.
New or previously unsuccessful applicants can apply for the relevant grant listed above shortly via the application portal. In the meantime, learn more at sa.gov.au.
The COVID-19 Business Impact Support Program is available to Tasmanian business owners who have been hard hit by the pandemic. Depending on annual turnover thresholds, applicants could receive a one-off payment between $1,000 and $5,000. To qualify, you must:
- have experienced a turnover decline due to COVID-19 of at least 30 per cent between 15 December 2021 to 14 January 2022, compared to the same period 12 months prior (15 December 2020 to 14 January 2021)
- demonstrate you have a COVID-19 safety plan, a completed COVID-19 risk assessment, and where applicable, a COVID-19 case and outbreak management plan
The grant program is open now until 2pm (AEDT), 9 February 2022. To apply, visit Business Tasmania.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT’s existing Small Business Hardship Scheme has been extended in the latest round of small business support. Eligible applicants could be reimbursed up to $10,000 for costs including utilities (gas, water, electricity), commercial rates, and commercial vehicle registrations. To qualify, you must:
- have an annual turnover between $30,000 to $2 million
- hold a valid and active ABN as of 1 April 2020
- have experienced a 30 per cent turnover decline in the lockdown period, compared to the period before lockdown
Those who have already applied for a reimbursement of less than $10,000 may be eligible to reapply for expenses incurred up until the scheme’s closing date on 28 February 2022. For more information, visit the ACT Business Hub.
Is there support available in other states?
Ongoing small business support is also available in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. For example:
- Victoria’s Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme has been extended until 15 March 2022. Eligible businesses could access rent relief in line with their revenue decline. So if a business has seen a 40 per cent drop in turnover, they might only be charged 40 per cent of their original rent agreement, with the remaining 60 per cent waived or deferred. Visit Business Victoria for more details, and to apply before 15 March 2022.
- The Small Business Assistance Grant is open to West Australian business owners who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions in place from 23 December 2021 to 4 January 2022. Eligible applicants could receive up to $12,500 (for employing businesses) or $4,400 (for sole traders). Head over to smallbusiness.wa.gov.au to learn more about the eligibility criteria, and to apply before 4pm (AWST), 31 March 2022.
Visit business.gov.au, and click through to learn what’s on offer in each state.
For more resources and guidance on how to support your business during this challenging period, head to Xero’s Business continuity hub.