There is a range of payments and grants available for individuals, families and businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The following information is a summary of all the financial assistance provided by the federal government and Victorian state government.
Financial support for individuals and households
The following payments will be made to eligible members of the community:
- Coronavirus Supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories for the next six months from 27 April 2020.
- $750 Economic Support Payment from 31 March 2020
- Second Economic Support Payment from 13 July 2020
- Crisis Payment for those who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19 and don’t have any leave entitlements, or for those who are in severe financial hardship and get an income support payment. This is a one-off payment equal to a week’s pay of your existing income support payment rate.
If you don’t currently get an income support payment and you need help because you’ve lost your job or had your income reduced, please start your claim online. You should call 132 850 if you do not already have a Centrelink Customer Reference Number. If you have an existing CRN, you can lodge a claim through MyGov.
If you’re already getting a payment that is eligible for the Economic Support Payment or the Coronavirus Supplement, you do not need to do anything, you’ll get paid automatically.
Eligible employees will receive from their employers a minimum of $1500 per fortnight, before tax. Employers will pay employees as usual. It is possible that a long-term casual or part-time worker may receive more than their usual pay, as employers must pay a minimum of $1500 per fortnight per employee.
Eligible employees include those who:
- Were employed by an eligible employer at 1 March 2020
- Are sole traders, full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020
- Are at least 16 years of age
- Are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a protected special category visa, a non-protected special category visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, a New Zealander on a special category (subclass 444) visa.
Employees can find out more about the JobKeeper payment from this fact sheet produced by Treasury.
Victorians seeking employment
Individuals who have lost their job can register with the Working for Victoria Fund and may be eligible to apply for different kinds of work. This is paid work which provides an opportunity to contribute to Victoria’s ability to manage this crisis and support the community.
There are likely to be many different types of jobs available, including cleaning and sanitation of buildings, food services, health care, manufacturing, logistics, customer service, waste management and agriculture.
Temporary early access to superannuation
The government is allowing individuals affected by the coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. More details on eligibility can be found here. If you fit the eligibility criteria, go to MyGov to apply.
Support from banks and financial institutions
Many banks have indicated that they will pause mortgage repayments for customers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus. We recommend contacting your bank or home loan provider to see what support may be available. Further announcements about relief for mortgage holders and renters are expected in the coming days.
Assistance from the ATO
If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 and need assistance from the Australian Taxation Office, you can reach their emergency assistance line on 1800 806 218.
Temporary reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements
The government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 income years.
Changes to social security deeming rates
As of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent and the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent.
As part of the federal government’s $130 billion support package there will be a new JobKeeper payment of $1500 per fortnight as a wage subsidy to eligible employers. To receive this payment both the employer and the employee must be eligible. Eligible employers will be paid $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months. Payments will be made to the employer monthly in arrears by the Australian Tax Office from the first week of May 2020.
Eligible employers include businesses, (including companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders), not-for-profits and charities:
- With a turnover of less than $1 billion that have lost 30% or more of their revenue compared to a comparable period a year ago
- With a turnover of $1 billion or more and with at least a 50% reduction in revenue compared to a comparable period a year ago
Employers can find out more about this payment on this fact sheet produced by Treasury.
Support for small and medium businesses
- Up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits that employ people and that have an aggregated annual turnover under $50 million.
- An increase of the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.
- An increase in the instant asset write-off (IAWO) threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 with access to include all businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million until 30 June 2020.
- Support for businesses to retain their apprentices and trainees: eligible employers can apply for wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
- The Victorian government has set up a $500 million fund to support the hardest hit sectors such as hospitality, tourism, accommodation, retail and the arts. Businesses can register online for more information.
A full breakdown of business support measures offered by the Commonwealth can be found on the Treasury website.
Supporting the flow of credit
- Many viable small and medium sized businesses are facing significant challenges due to disrupted cash flow but they still have to pay rent, utilities and employee expenses. The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible. The maximum total of loans will be $250,000 per borrower.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia has announced that banks will have access to at least $90 billion in funding at a fixed interest rate of 0.25 per cent. This will reduce costs for banks, which in turn will reduce interest rates for borrowers.
Please refer to this fact sheet from Treasury outlining support measures for the flow of credit.
Temporary relief is available for businesses who are experiencing financial distress. Please refer to this fact sheet for more information.
If you need further information on assistance for businesses through the stimulus package, go here for information from the Federal Government. A breakdown of Victorian State Government support can be found here.
Business Victoria has established a hotline for businesses seeking further information and advice on 13 22 15. You can also call the Commonwealth’s business support line on 13 28 46 for advice on new federal government support that is available.
While there are some welcome measures, Labor has raised concerns that the Morrison Government’s response lacks urgency, leaves gaps in support and does not go far enough to protect small businesses and the jobs of their employees. Labor will continue to push for further immediate support for businesses to assist throughout this crisis.