We are Here to Support You

Lockwood Partners and Provide Group are here to support all our clients and we are committed to remaining open for business, although many of our advisors may be required to work from home. We understand that a number of our clients have been and will be adversely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Our team is dedicated to helping in any way we can, including:

 

  • Providing advice in relation to the Federal or State Economic stimulus measures;
  • Assisting businesses to deal with the financial impact of the crisis, including cash flow management, business restructures, budget revisions and bank submissions; and
  • Assisting clients with ATO matters such as lodgement deferrals, payment deferrals and other requests.

 

As you can appreciate, during this period of social distancing, we are avoiding face to face client meetings. In most cases we are able to conduct meetings with clients by phone conferences, Skype or answer any questions via email.

 

Further Federal Government Stimulus Measures

 

In addition to the economic stimulus package announced on Thursday 12 March, yesterday the Federal Government announced further stimulus measures to support businesses, as follows:

 

  • Employers with aggregated annual turnover up to $50 million will be eligible for stimulus payments of up to $100,000, with a minimum payment of $20,000. The original scheme, covering the period March – June 2020, which promised payments ranging from a minimum of $2,000 to a maximum of $25,000, will be increased to a minimum payment of $10,000 and a maximum payment of $50,000. An additional payment scheme will be introduced for the July – October 2020 period, with the same minimum and maximum payments. The original scheme was based on a refund of 50% of PAYG tax withheld, whereas the new scheme is based on a refund 100% of PAYG tax withheld for the relevant period.

 

  • Temporary increase of the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time the companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.

 

  • Temporary relief for directors for any personal liability for insolvent trading, along with temporary relief from provisions of the Corporations Act to deal with unforeseen events that have arisen as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

 

  • The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of businesses that are currently struggling due to Coronavirus, including deferrals, payment reductions and withholding of enforcement actions.

 

The Federal Government also announced measures to support individuals and households impacted by the Coronavirus health crisis, including:

 

  • Additional income support payments of $550 per fortnight to new and existing recipients of Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

 

  • Access to the above payments will be expanded, including reduced means testing and reduced waiting periods.

 

  • On 12 March, the Government announced $750 cash payments to eligible concession card holders. Yesterday they announced a second $750 payment. The first payment will be paid from 31 March and the second payment will be paid from 13 July.

 

  • Individuals impacted by COVID-19 will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019/20 and a further $10,000 in 2020/21.

 

  • Minimum superannuation pension requirements for account-based pensions and similar products will be reduced by 50% for 2019/20 and 2020/21. This is intended to reduce the need for retirees to sell investments to fund superannuation pension payments.

 

  • On 12 March, the Government announced a 0.5% decrease in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates. Yesterday, the Government announced a further decrease of 0.25% in these deeming rates. These cuts will benefit recipients of part pensions that are income tested.

 

The Government, The Reserve Bank of Australia and APRA have taken co-ordinated action to ensure the flow of credit in the Australian economy. These measures include:

 

  • Under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee 50% to SME (small and medium entities) lenders to support unsecured loans of up to $250,000 to SME’s. This is intended to assist otherwise viable businesses, who are facing significant challenges due to disrupted cash flow, to meet existing obligations.

 

  • The Government is providing temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This will assist small businesses gaining access to credit quickly and efficiently.

 

  • The Reserve Bank has announced a number of measures aimed at putting downward pressure on borrowing costs for businesses and households. The measures include increasing access to funds for the banks, decreasing the banks’ funding costs and reducing interest rates.

 

  • The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has announced temporary changes to its expectations regarding bank capital ratios. The changes will support banks’ lending to customers.

 

 

VIC State Government Stimulus Measures

 

On Friday 20 March the Victorian State Government announced the following measures to assist businesses:

 

  • A reprieve from Victorian payroll tax for the year ending 30 June 2020, for employers with payroll of less than $3M. Eligible employers will receive a refund of the payroll tax already paid for the year to date as early as this coming Friday and they will not be required to pay payroll tax in respect of the remainder of the financial year.

 

  • $500 million will be earmarked for hardship payments, grants and tailored payments to businesses most severely impacted by the virus. The funds will be distributed in consultation with the Victorian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Australian Hotels Association, the Australian Industry Group and other industry representatives.

 

  • The third component of the package, worth more than $600 million, will be used for a range of assistance measures, including:
    • Waiving of venues’ liquor licence fees due this month;
    • Financial support for Victorians who have lost their jobs or will lose their jobs in the coming months; and
    • Rent relief for commercial tenants in Government buildings.

 

NSW State Government Stimulus Measures

The New South Wales State Government announced the following measures to assist businesses:

 

  • Payroll tax relief for businesses with grouped Australian wages of no more than $10 million

Employers of small businesses will have their payroll tax waived for the next three months, or until the end of the financial year.

This will be available for all businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million.

For those customers who lodge and pay monthly and whose total Australian wages will be no more than $10 million for the current financial year, no payment for the months of March, April or May 2020 will be required. When lodging your annual reconciliation, you will still need to provide wage details paid in these months and will receive the benefit of a 25% reduction in the amount of tax you would have had to pay for 2019-20.

 

  • Threshold increase – 2020/2021 financial year

The tax-free threshold will increase from $900,000 to $1 million for the financial year commencing on 1 July 2020.

 

The Impact of Coronavirus on the Workplace

Many of you many have questions regarding the responsibility of employers and employees during this period of uncertainty.  The Fair Work Ombudsman has prepared a document that outlined a number of issues that may arise in workplaces for both employers and employees as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. We encourage all our clients to speak to their solicitor for any advice on this matter and suggest you click here to read the document to understand your rights and obligations.

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