Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
We’re thinking of everyone affected by lockdowns around the country and encourage you to reach out if you have any questions about your business during this time.
80% vaccination targets approaching
The Delta outbreak may have reached a turning point, with more than half the country in extended lockdowns and vaccination rates starting to approach national targets.
According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, 80% of Australians will have had their first COVID-19 jabs this week. The government wants all restrictions and travel bans to be lifted when 80% of the population older than 16 years is fully vaccinated.
Change in Super Rules from 1 November for Your New Employees
There’s an upcoming change that involves an extra step to comply with ‘choice of fund’ rules when a new employee starts working for you. Currently, if new hires don’t choose their own Super fund, the employer can pay Super contributions for them to your default fund.
However, starting 1 November, employers will need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from the ATO. A stapled super fund is an existing account which is linked to an employee, and this change in rules aim to minimise the number of additional Super accounts opened each time an individual starts a new job.
You can use online services for business to request for your new hires’ stapled super fund details. If you need help with your tax and super, get in touch with us!
APRA tightens lending criteria
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) tightened lending criteria this week. Mortgage applicants must now prove they can make repayments if interest rates spike by 3%, boosting the “buffer” by half a percent. APRA hopes this will ensure borrowers can afford the level of debt they take on, given growing concerns around soaring house prices and slow wage growth.
Borders to Reopen in November
After 18 months of international border closure, Australia will gradually reopen its borders. Australians will be able to return home and travel overseas within weeks as soon as 80% of vaccination targets are met.
At present, the border restriction is until 17 December, but this new announcement means the travel ban could be lifted a month earlier.
Trade Surplus Jumps to $15.08 Billion in August
Australia Trade Balance for August came in as $15.08 billion versus the $10.65 billion forecast. Exports eased to 4% while imports dropped to -1.0% in August, compared to +5.0% and +3.0% in the previous month, respectively.
Government to Buy Experimental COVID-19 Drug
The government will purchase 300,000 courses of Merck & Co’s experimental antiviral pill molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19 if it gets regulatory approval. The drug could reduce the chances of dying or being hospitalised due to COVID-19 by 50%.
Molnupiravir is expected to be available in the country by early next year if it gets approval by Australia’s drug regulator.
Disaster Payments to Be Scaled Back
The COVID-19 Disaster Payment which gives $750 a week to people who have lost at least 20 hours of work, and $450 a week to those who have lost between eight and 20 hours, will be wound back as each state and territory hits the 70% and 80% target vaccination rates for those aged 16 years old and above.
At 70% fully vaccinated, people will have to reapply each week for the payment, instead of it being automatically renewed. Meanwhile, at 80%, the payment will be phased out entirely within two weeks.
Support for Apprentices to be Expanded
The $3.9 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program will extend support into the second and third year of an eligible Australian Apprenticeship through the $716 million Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program.
From October, eligible employers will receive a 10% wage subsidy in the second year of an eligible apprenticeship, and 5% in the third year. The government’s investment is expected to continue to support the 270,000 anticipated commencements under the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program from October 2020 to March 2022.
COVID-19 Government Support By State and Industry
Small businesses that are currently suffering from lockdowns can get financial assistance to help them get through the pandemic. You can find the latest government support schemes for each state or territory here.
The impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions vary from one industry to another. Here, you’ll find the latest government financial assistance available for particular industries.
The NSW Government is offering financial support to businesses or not-for-profit organisations impacted by the recent COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
NSW: Micro-business grant
The micro-business grant is a $1500 fortnightly payment for businesses with a turnover between $30,000 and $75,000.
To check your eligibility and apply, visit the Service NSW website.
COVID-19 Business Grant
A one-off payment to help businesses, sole traders or not-for-profit organisations impacted by the current Greater Sydney COVID-19 restrictions.
Grants between $7,500 and $15,000 are available to eligible businesses depending on the decline in turnover experienced during the restrictions. For eligibility criteria and to apply, visit the Service NSW website.
JobSaver is a fortnightly payment to help maintain employee headcount (as at 13 July) and provide cashflow support to businesses. To check your eligibility and apply, visit the Service NSW website.
Small business fees and charges rebate
If you are a sole trader, the owner of a small business or a not-for-profit organisation in NSW, you may be eligible for a small business fees and charges rebate of $1500 aimed at helping businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Applications are open and you can check your eligibility here.
You can view more NSW Government COVID-19 Support Packages here, including Jobs Plus, Sydney CBD Friday vouchers, Payroll tax support and support for the tourism industry. Get in touch with us if you have any questions.
ATO support for those affected by COVID-19 restrictions or disasters
The ATO has a range of support options to help those affected by disasters or those experiencing challenges due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions.
The ATO may be able to:
- prioritise any refunds owed to you
- set up a payment plan tailored to your individual situation
- remit penalties or interest charged during the time you have been affected.
If you need help to manage your tax or superannuation obligations, please get in touch with us.
JobMaker Hiring Credit
Eligible employers can access the JobMaker Hiring Credit for each eligible additional employee they hire between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021. You may be able to claim the following payments:
- up to $10,400 over a year for each additional eligible employee aged 16 to 29 years
- up to $5,200 over a year for each additional eligible employee aged 30 to 35 years
Register before the due date of the first JobMaker period you’re claiming for.
Get in touch
Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.