Shadow Minister for Small Business, Marie-Clare Boothby, says the Gunner Labor Government has short-changed small business with the introduction of a watered-down amalgamation of the Business Hardship Register and Small Business Survival Fund.
- The original Business Hardship Register included: waiving or deferring payment of payroll tax, reducing utilities bills, providing incentives for commercial landlords to reduce rents, and reducing or deferring rates.
- The original Small Business Survival Fund included: a one-off grant of $2,000 for sole traders, $5,000 for businesses with 2-4 employees, $20,000 for businesses with 5-19 employees, and $50,000 for businesses with more than 20 employees.
- The watered-down version of the Business Hardship register only includes: payroll tax waived for less than $5 million, reduced utility bills, a one-off grant of $3,000 for businesses, and a one-off grant of $1,000 for sole traders.
“The differences are stark: the one-off grant payment thresholds are significantly lower than the original support funds, and the reduced rent and rate relief is no longer provided.
“We welcome any support for small businesses, following pressure from NT businesses and the Opposition, which have been cripple by COVID. But the Chief Minister has cherry-picked the cheapest options from the Business Hardship Register and Small Business Survival Fund to appear like he’s actually doing something – when in reality, he can’t afford to adequately support NT businesses.
“Of the more than 14,000 small businesses, only 44 applications for the Business Hardship Register have been received and due to the stringent criteria it’s unclear how many of the businesses, if any, will actually have funding support approved.
“The eligibility criteria for the new Business Hardship Register is a downturn of more than 40% of revenue compared to 2019. Based on the strict criteria, any small business that is remotely close to eligibility would already be broke and shuttered.
“If the Gunner Labor Government had any idea about how a small business operates, it would know this support will do nothing. Eligibility assessors will compare financials from 2019, yet in the past two years of COVID, wages and supply costs have increased. That means this isn’t a true reflection of just how close to the edge these businesses are trading.
“If the Gunner Government is truly concerned for the survival of NT small businesses, it would link the criteria of the Support Packages to staff wages and not the decline in turnover alone.
“Small businesses, particularly cafes and restaurants are burning cash just to keep their staff employed. Without genuine support from the Gunner Government, they’ll be gone forever,” said Mrs Boothby.