CPA calls for SME support from government, post-Covid

Australia’s leading professional accounting body, CPA Australia, is urging the Federal Government to develop an ongoing support network for businesses when they come out of lockdown to help them transition to the post-Covid economic environment.

“New national arrangements on Covid-19 business supports are a positive development,” CPA Australia CEO, Andrew Hunter, said. “The missing piece is what happens once a lockdown ends.

“The impact on businesses doesn’t stop the moment a government calls time on a lockdown. If support is withdrawn immediately, many businesses may experience a damaging hard landing,” Hunter added.

“By tapering business support for a couple of weeks post-lockdown, the government can soften the negative effects of withdrawing support.”

The organisation is calling for a package that combines support from both the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments for SMEs.

“We’ve participated in hundreds of discussions with governments, industry and members since the pandemic began,” Hunter said. “We’ve heard countless stories of lockdown hardship from business owners. Based on our experience, a coordinated national approach, including direct and indirect supports, makes a big difference to businesses’ success after an extended lockdown.”

CPA believe that an effective strategy will require five elements that are made available to SMEs as soon as lockdowns are lifted:

  • 1. Tapered support with levels decided by percentage reduction in turnover.
  • 2. Deferral of collection of business taxes from both Commonwealth and their respective State / Territory government.
  • 3. A moratorium on compliance activity, including ATO debt collection
  • 4. Incentives for customers, for example issuing dining, travel and accommodation vouchers.
  • 5. Financial assistance for professional advice.

“If the Government takes the initiative immediately, we could have a strategy in place for when current lockdowns end, and for any future lockdowns,” Hunter said. “We acknowledge that this will require a high level of coordination between different levels of government, but we don’t think that’s too much for Australians to expect.”

This article was first published on Inside Small Business.