COVID-19 Support

Several government agencies and business organisations have released information and put in place initiatives to help businesses get through this unprecedented time.

Show your commitment to COVID Safety and keeping our community safe. Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan and register as a COVID Safe business here.

Covid-19 related restrictions to trade and travel, plus self isolation and gathering size guidelines have affected the ability of many businesses to continue usual activity.

Please see below for a list of resources currently available for small and medium businesses, as collated by the Clean Energy Council, Austrade, NERA and The Hub, organised into the categories of:

  • Federal and State business assistance
  • Local Government information for business
  • Export and supply chain assistance
  • Tech help for remote working
  • Safe work practices and consumer rights
  • Webinars
  • Wellbeing resources
  • New COVID-19 related opportunities
  • COVID updates and information for exporters

ACCESS LUNA'S STIMULUS TRACKER HERE TO QUICKLY ASSESS YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR STIMULUS SUPPORT

FEDERAL AND STATE BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

JobKeeper Payment scheme

On 30 March, the Federal Government announced the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment scheme.

Under the scheme, eligible employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020 for a maximum period of six months. This applies to current, stood down and re-hired employees that were employed as of 1 March 2020.

To be eligible for the scheme, employers with a turnover of less than $1 billion have to have seen a 30 per cent reduction in their turnover compared to the same time last year or businesses with a turnover of over $1 billion must have seen a 50 per cent reduction in business.

Federal Government business assistance package

The Federal Government has announced a number of measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19. Of particular relevance to small solar businesses are the initiatives to:

  • Increase the instant asset write-off. The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million). Businesses may be looking for further ways to cut costs and may be able to use this instant asset write-off to install a solar PV system.
  • Boost cash flow for employers. Provides up to $100,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses and not-for-profit entities with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff. The payment will be tax free.
  • Accelerate depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost.
  • Provide support for apprentices and trainees. If you employ an apprentice or trainee you may be eligible for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of their wage paid from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
  • Support the flow of credit. The government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.
  • Provide temporary relief for financially distressed businesses. A temporary increase to 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. This includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

The ATO has a range of measures in place to provide relief to businesses experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. It also offers a list of FAQs covering some of the common tax questions arising from of COVID-19 and more information on the Federal Government’s business assistance package.

Small Business Relief Package from Australian banks

Under this package from Australia's banks, small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be able to defer loan repayments for six months. Contact your bank for further information or to apply for this program.

NSW Government

The NSW Government has introduced a range of measures to help businesses affected by COVID-19. These include:

  • deferral of payroll tax for all businesses for six months
  • the creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees
  • bringing forward payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.

Follow this link to access State Government Assistance.

If your small business or non-profit organisation has experienced a significant decline in revenue as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for a small business support grant of up to $10,000. Applications close 30 June. This grant supports the ongoing operations of small businesses highly impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic following the NSW Public Health Order of 30 March 2020. Funds may only be used for unavoidable business expenses that are not supported by other government funding. These expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • utilities
  • council rates
  • telecommunication charges
  • insurance payments
  • professional advice
  • wages for an employee not eligible for JobKeeper payments
  • franchise fees
  • paying creditors, if your business is closing.

Only one grant is available per Australian Business Number (ABN). More info here.

Under the new Small Business Recovery Grant, small businesses will be able to apply for funding up to $3000.

The grants can be used to cover marketing and advertising expenses, make fit-out changes and train staff in how to work safely under the current COVID-19 health conditions.

Applications will open on the Service NSW website from Wednesday 1 July 2020 until Sunday 16 August 2020.

Visit the NSW Government’s COVID Safe Business webpage to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan and register as a COVID safe business to show your commitment to keeping our community safe.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION FOR BUSINESS

Click on your area to see what your local council can offer you in terms of supports and resources. (More to come)

METS, EXPORT AND SUPPLY CHAIN ASSISTANCE

The Australian Government has established a $500 million COVID-19 Export Capital Facility to assist previously profitable Australian exporters whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19. To find out more, download the factsheet from the Export Finance Australia website here.

Austrade is part of ‘Team Australia’ – the network of government and industry agencies and bodies that are working intensively to help Australian businesses overcome COVID-19 challenges.

Austrade is now receiving interest from overseas, including calls from organisations that seek information on Australian manufacturing capabilities. Austrade will work with The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to field enquiries and communicate opportunities.

- To that end, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has developed a portal for manufacturing, component suppliers, skilled design, engineering and manufacturing experts. Register your interest and core competencies.

- Australia’s Industry Capability Network (ICN) is providing businesses with links and work packages. Click here for more.

- Lastly, if COVID-19 has caused offshore issues for your METS business – including supply chain obstructions – please let Austrade know. They may be able to help.

METS Ignited have collated COVID-19 support and resources for the Australian METS sector. Access the page here.

TECH HELP FOR REMOTE WORKING

Services, advice and tools to help you work remotely

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) in conjunction with some of its members and with the support of the Federal Government, has come together to provide a suite of free service offerings, advice and tools designed to support Australian business continuity through the use of technology. This support includes a range of remote communications, collaboration, workforce management and video conferencing solutions for business continuity that can be accessed on any device at any time anywhere. Go to the AIIA website here.

SAFE WORK PRACTICES & CONSUMER RIGHTS

Make sure you are aware of your responsibilities to employees and consumers during these unprecedented times.

Department of Health

The federal Department of Health has produced an information sheet on COVID-19 for employers.

Safe Work Australia

Safe Work Australia has provided advice as to how employers can manage the workplace health and safety risks related to COVID-19.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman has provided information on the entitlements and obligations that businesses are responsible for under Australian workplace laws in light of COVID-19.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has provided advice for businesses on their privacy obligations to staff in relation to COVID-19.

Comcare

Comcare has offered advice on the responsibilities of business owners under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

SafeWork NSW

SafeWork NSW has provided advice and a series of recommendations for NSW businesses on managing the risk of COVID-19 within their workplaces.

Australian Energy Regulator

The Australian Energy Regulator has set out ten principles that it expects energy businesses to adhere to ensure the continued safe and reliable supply of energy to homes and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. These include rules around disconnecting customers, waiving disconnection fees and offering payment plans to businesses under financial hardship.

NSW Small Business Commissioner

The Small Business Commissioner has provided advice to small businesses in New South Wales as to how they can respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19. Topics covered include:

  • What businesses are restricted from trading?
  • My business is experiencing lost trade and cashflow problems - can I get help with my bills?
  • What financial support is available from the government?
  • I’m struggling with my rent.
  • I need advice on consumer rights (e.g. event cancellations, refunds, delayed orders).
  • How can I prepare my business if I get sick?
  • What are my employer obligations (including workplace entitlements, standing down staff)?)?
  • I need advice on managing employee leave.
  • How can I protect myself, my employees and my customers?
  • I’m having a dispute.
  • I need business advice.
  • Who can I speak to about other issues such as red tape?
  • I need mental health support.

WEBINARS

Many organisations have fast adapted to new working conditions and are now offering skills building opportunities online.

Go to the NSW Energy and Resources Knowledge Hub events section here to explore and register for many webinar opportunities coming up.

WELLBEING RESOURCES

The outbreak of COVID-19 is a stressful time for both business owners and their employees. The following organisations have produced information on how best to look after your mental health and cope with stress related to COVID-19:

NEW COVID-19 RELATED OPPORTUNITIES

COVID-19 Innovation Challenge Funding Round

NERA will be providing $20,000 to up to ten Australian-based energy resources businesses (for a total of up to $200,000 in funding) who can offer solutions, services or knowledge that can help manage and mitigate the challenges we face as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Successful applicants will demonstrate they can rapidly adapt and/or develop solutions to the challenges associated with the current pandemic.

Innovation and technology play a key role in navigating the COVID-19 crisis — from treating and testing at the frontline to how we interact, socialise, work and educate as the world goes into lockdown. We encourage Australian energy resources SMEs to think differently and innovatively about their business model and their value proposition, and think about how they can adapt their existing solutions and/or specialised knowledge to help address challenges associated with the pandemic.

Applications are due by COB Tuesday 7 April 2020.

Please complete the form here and NERA will contact you directly to discuss your solution and how we can provide assistance.

Retooling

The NSW Government would like to hear from suppliers that have the capacity to provide critical supplies, raw materials or manufacturing capability to produce critical supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

They are specifically looking to produce hand sanitiser, examination gloves, disinfectant and cleaning products, handwash and soap, masks, eyewear, gowns and paper products including toilet and tissue paper. You can register your interest in becoming part of the supply chain here.

- The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has developed a portal for manufacturing, component suppliers, skilled design, engineering and manufacturing experts. Register your interest and core competencies.

- Australia’s Industry Capability Network (ICN) is providing businesses with links and work packages. Click here for more.

- Austrade is now receiving interest from overseas, including calls from organisations that seek information on Australian manufacturing capabilities. Austrade will work with AMGC to field enquiries and communicate opportunities.

INFORMATION FOR EXPORTERS

Go to the Austrade website here for the latest information on COVID for exporters.

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