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Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Bruce Billson says the 2021 budget is “a clear acknowledgement that small and family businesses are central to the nation’s economic recovery and future prosperity.” JobTrainer has been extended for another year and small businesses can continue to write-off the full value of assets purchased until 2023.

Federal Government appointee Billson says the federal budget includes several new measures to support small businesses including:

  • $129.8 million to encourage entrepreneurship through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) and Entrepreneurship Facilitators Program
  • $1.2 billion investment in the digital economy
  • $10 billion guarantee of reinsurance pool to cover cyclone and flood damage across Northern Australia
  • $506 million extension of federal government’s JobTrainer program
  • $10 million over four years on small business deregulation agenda
  • 11 million over three years for national recognition of occupation licences
  • Tax system reform for small business
  • $4.3 million to establish the Mandatory Franchise Disclosure Registry
  • $2.6 million to improve access and awareness of Commonwealth procurement opportunities

“The budget represents a substantial financial and strategic commitment to making Australia the best place to start, grow and transform a business,” Billson says. “These measures will support small and family businesses as they help lead our national economic recovery and play a critical role in securing our future prosperity.”

The JobTrainer program will be extended for another 12 months, as part of a $506 million package to support SMEs to employ apprentices and trainees with a 50% wage subsidy of up to $28,000 per year.

“JobTrainer has proven to be a highly effective incentive for SMEs to take on new apprentices and trainees,” Billson says. “The cost of apprentices and trainees can be significant as they learn the ropes, so small businesses will welcome the extension of this wage subsidy. JobTrainer will also offer thousands of young Australians low-fee or free courses – critically in fields where small businesses are struggling to find staff.”

Small businesses can continue to write-off the full value of assets purchased until 2023.

“This one year extension of the uncapped instant asset write-off is a big win for small businesses. It gives small businesses more time and certainty to plan and buy major equipment. It significantly reduces the need for depreciation and cuts red tape.”

Digital Economy Strategy:

The Federal Government has pledged $1.2 billion towards enhancing the digital economy, including a 30% tax offset for the video game industry.

“This $1.2 billion investment will encourage greater digital adoption by small and family businesses, to ensure they are globally competitive,” says Billson “With 1.2 billion invoices exchanged in Australia every year, making the switch to e-invoicing would add an estimated $28 billion to the Australian economy over 10 years. For SMEs, we know e-invoicing streamlines productivity and improves cash flow with reduced admin and faster payments.”

Encouraging Entrepreneurship:

The Federal Government will spend $129.8 million on consolidating and expanding small business and entrepreneurial services to support people who want to start, run and grow their own business.

“The number of New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) places will lift from 8,600 to 12,000 per year for people looking to create their own start-up livelihoods,” he says. “It will also support existing micro-businesses to adjust to changing labour market conditions to ensure these businesses remain viable and resilient to changes in the face of turbulent trading conditions.”

Insurance:

Billson welcomed plans for a reinsurance pool to be backed by a $10 billion Australian Government guarantee to cover cyclone and flood damage across Northern Australia from July 1, 2022. He says the scheme, broadly in line with a recommendation in ASBFEO’s Insurance Inquiry, will make a significant difference.

“This is certainly a welcome step in the right direction when it comes to ensuring essential insurance coverage is accessible to small businesses. Our Insurance Inquiry revealed that too many small businesses have been crippled by rising insurance costs and some can’t get it at all. A reinsurance pool will go some way to addressing this key barrier for small businesses in Northern Australia.”

Barriers still exist for SME insurance coverage in other parts of Australia, he says.

“In the course of our Insurance Inquiry, we spoke to over 800 small businesses – about 12% of those were from Northern Australia. That means there are still many small businesses out there experiencing difficulties with accessing necessary and affordable insurance coverage. My office is ready and willing to work collaboratively with the government, relevant agencies and the insurance industry towards making essential insurance products affordable and accessible for small businesses across the country.”

Tax system reform:

Billson welcomed the pledge to give the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) greater powers to pause or change debt recovery actions applying to a small business in dispute with the ATO. “Small businesses disputing an ATO debt in the AAT will get a fairer go by stopping the ATO from relentlessly pushing on with debt recovery actions against a small business, while the case is being heard.”

Instant Asset Write-Off:

Small businesses can continue to write-off the full value of assets purchased until 2023. “This one year extension of the uncapped instant asset write-off is a big win for small businesses,” Billson says. “It gives small businesses more time and certainty to plan and buy major equipment. It significantly reduces the need for depreciation and cuts red tape.”

Loss Carry Back:

The loss carry back provision will also be extended to June 2023. “This is a tax initiative that effectively allows a small business to carry back tax losses from 2022/23 income year to offset previously taxed profits as far back as 2018/19, to support business recovery.”

Payment times:

The Government is committing an additional $16 million to ensure effective implementation of the Payment Times Reporting Scheme, which has been in effect since 1 January, 2021.

Mandatory Franchise Disclosure Registry:

A Franchise Disclosure Registry is set to be established at a cost of $4.3 million. The registry will require franchisors to lodge disclosure documentation about their franchise annually.