The WA State Government, and Commonwealth Government, have announced new financial stimulus package measures to assist Western Australian businesses in managing the impact of COVID-19.
The content provided here is for general information only.
You should always refer to the relevant State and Commonwealth Government agency websites for full details and current information.
Follow the links to find out more.
Free training for displaced apprentices and trainees
Did you know that course fees for off the job training will be covered for up to six months for displaced apprentices and trainees?
The fee free training is available for apprentices and trainees whose contract has been cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020.
Looking for an apprentice or trainee?
For further information please contact the Apprenticeship Office Helpline on 13 19 54.
Western Australian Government financial support
On 31 March, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced further measures under the State Government's economic stimulus package, bringing it to a total of $1 billion in measures to support WA small and medium businesses.
Changes to payroll tax
- Payroll tax will be waived for a four-month period between 1 March to 30 June 2020, for small-to-medium sized businesses with Australia-wide annual wages of less than $7.5 million in 2019—20. This will deliver around $165 million in relief to around 10,700 WA businesses. Note: this replaces the previously announced payroll tax deferral.
- Payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500 to assist them to manage the impacts of COVID-19. It's expected 6,200 WA businesses will benefit from this grant.
- Additional payroll tax relief for small businesses will be fast-tracked, with the payroll tax threshold increasing to $1 million from 1 July 2020 — six months earlier than planned. 11,000 WA businesses will benefit from the cut in payroll tax.
Licence fees and Government taxes relief
State Government funding has been allocated to waive a wide range of licence fees for small and medium sized businesses in COVID-19 impacted industries in WA. This includes licences for building services, plumbers and electricians; tourism businesses operating in national and marine parks; boat registration and mooring fees for tourism operators and commercial fishers; commercial fisheries licences; taxi booking service authorisation fees; settlement agent licence fees; and other statutory planning fees.
WA businesses impacted by COVID-19 can also apply for an interest-free payment arrangement and for late payment penalties to be waived for payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax.
Liquor licence renewal fees for 2020 will be waived and refunds provided for businesses that have already paid, benefitting around 5,500 WA businesses with a liquor licence. Further information is available on the DLGSC website.
Electricity bills for around 95,000 small businesses in WA will be reduced, with a one-off $2,500 credit available for Synergy and Horizon Power customers that consume less than 50 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum. The credit is available for current customers (as of 31 March 31 2020) and will be allocated from 1 May 1, 2020 to reduce current and future electricity bills.
The measure will provide some $236.8 million in relief to WA businesses such as cafes, delis, restaurants, beauticians and small retail stores that have been heavily impacted by recent trading restrictions to contain COVID-19.
For further information, please visit your electricity provider's website.
On 23 April new land tax relief grants totalling $100 million were announced, to be paid to commercial landlords who reduce rent for small business tenants impacted by COVID-19.
Grants equivalent to 25 per cent of the landlord's land tax bill for 2019— 20 for the property in which an eligible tenant is provided relief will be paid to landlords.
The commercial rent relief grants will be administered through the Small Business Development Corporation, with applications opening 1 May 1 2020.
For more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit smallbusiness.wa.gov.au.
On 30 March, the WA Government announced a $25 million program to waive rental payments for small businesses and not-for-profit groups in State Government-owned buildings for six months, to help lease holders respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
This will benefit businesses such as convenience stores in train stations, cafés in government buildings, and restaurants in tourism precincts such as Elizabeth Quay and Yagan Square. It will also benefit eligible small businesses leasing land from the State, such as caravan park and eco-tourism operators.
Lease holders will be contacted directly with further information.
The WA Government has passed new laws to offer greater protection for small business commercial tenants who are in financial distress as a result of restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key elements of the new legislation include:
- a six-month moratorium on evictions for certain commercial tenancies (backdated to 30 March 2020);
- a freeze on rent increases;
- restriction on penalties for tenants who are unable to trade or reduce their trading hours; and
- no interest to be charged on rent arrears.
For further information and eligibility criteria, visit the Small Business Development Corporation website.
As of 30 March the WA Government, through Lotterywest, has established an immediately available $159 million COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide support for eligible not for profit sports, arts and community organisations to assist with costs related to the increased demand for food, clothing, shelter and other critical needs and services they provide.
This funding will also provide urgent financial relief for not for profit sports, arts and community organisations experiencing hardship as a result of cancelled events, compensating for cancellation costs, lost revenue and operational costs associated with the cancelled event.
Electricity bills for around 2,800 charities will be reduced, with a one-off $2,500 credit provided for groups on community service and charitable accommodation electricity tariffs with Synergy and Horizon Power.
The credit will be allocated from 1 May 2020 to reduce current and future bills, and is expected to provide an estimated $6.9 million in assistance.
Funding certainty has been provided to community service providers, with government agencies to continue to pay contracts with the sector until at least 30 June 2020, even if providers are unable to deliver services due to impacts caused by COVID-19.
Tourism industry financial support
The WA Government has committed $14.4 million in financial support under the WA Tourism Recovery Program to support tourism businesses to reactivate and adapt to a reopening of the travel market following the easing of COVID-19 related restrictions.
A new Tourism Recovery Fund of $10.4 million will provide one-off cash grants to enable tourism operators to prepare for a staged return to business. These grants will provide immediate support to eligible tourism operators, including micro businesses such as sole traders and those with four or less employees.
For information on the Tourism Recovery Fund grants, including eligibility and how to apply, please visit the Tourism WA website.
A further $4 million Tourism Business Survival Grants package will be available for tourism operators dealing with exceptionally difficult circumstances, with grants of $25—100,000 available. These grants will target businesses located in parts of the State with more restrictive travel bans in place, or those who will face a more difficult road to recovery post-pandemic. Information on the Tourism Business Survival Grants package, including how to apply, will be available shortly.
Construction industry support
On 23 April the WA State Government and Construction Training Fund (CTF) announced a new $24.5 million support package for the construction industry, to ensure jobs are maintained and the WA construction workforce is ready to assist with the post COVID-19 economic recovery. The package includes $10 million to provide an immediate, one-off payment of $2,000 to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving CTF grant payments.
A new grants scheme worth $9.5 million will be available to assist employers to retain their existing apprentices, with payments beginning from 1 June 1 2020 (backdated from 1 April 1 2020).
Payments will range from $250 to $500 per month, per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trades facing the most critical skills shortages in the industry. This will supplement CTF's existing grants scheme for a period of six months — employers currently receiving CTF grants for apprentices and trainees in employment will be eligible for the new grant scheme.
A further $5 million has been allocated to enable apprentices and trainees employed in the construction industry to claim up to $1,000 to support the costs of undertaking short courses to assist them in upskilling to meet business needs.
Support and assistance for WA businesses
The State Government has also set up a dedicated small business assistance centre through the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC), to deal specifically with queries from business owners looking for information on available stimulus packages and eligibility requirements; and advice on preparing their business to manage the impact of COVID-19. For businesses not currently eligible for financial support packages, SBDC can provide business advice to help owners manage their situations.
The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and innovation has put together a handy list of COVID-19 related contacts that you might find useful.
Commonwealth Government assistance for business
The Commonwealth Government’s targeted stimulus package to support the Australian economy through the challenges of COVID-19 was released on 12 March to provide measures to support and assist small and medium businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain their employees, including apprentices and trainees. On 22 March the Government announced a second set of economic responses which, combined with the previous package, total $189 billion. On 30 March, an additional $130 billion was announced for the new JobKeeper Payment. The following key measures are available for small to medium businesses.
Businesses where turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent (relative to a comparable period of at least a month, a year ago) due to the impact of COVID-19 will be eligible to access this wage subsidy.
The JobKeeper Payment is a fortnightly payment of $1,500, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on the books as of 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.
The payment is available to eligible employers and businesses including companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders, not for profit organisations and charities where employees have been stood down or their paid working hours have been reduced due to the impact of COVID-19.
This measure will provide employees with an income and keep businesses connected to their employees, which will help to restart business operations more quickly when the COVID-19 crisis is over.
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure will provide up to $100,000 back to small and medium-sized business, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide temporary cash flow support to small and medium businesses that employ staff, and will be tax free.
An additional payment is also being introduced in the July–October 2020 period, equal to the total of all Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments. This additional payment extends the financial support over a longer period, helping employers retain staff and continue operating.
Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million, and not for profits that employ staff will be eligible. The payment will be tax free.
Wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees
Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the wages paid to an apprentice or trainee during the nine months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).
The subsidy will be available to small businesses employing fewer than 20 employees, who retain an apprentice or trainee.
Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer.
Assistance for business renters
Evictions will be put on hold over the next six months for commercial tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their rental payment commitments, due to the impact of COVID-19.
Further information about this will be added once available.
For full details regarding the JobKeeper Payment, Boosting Cash Flow For Employers measure, wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees and new measures to assist renters — including eligibility requirements and how to register or claim, please visit the business.gov.au website.
Running a business from home: Claiming expenses
Where your home is your place of business due to COVID-19, you may be able to claim deductions from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) if you carry out income-producing work at home and incur expenses in using your home for that purpose. Eligible deductions may include utilities such as gas and electricity, phone and internet costs, depreciation of office plant and equipment and home fittings, and occupancy expenses such as rent and insurance.
Working from home expenses
If you are working from home as a result of COVID-19, the ATO) has put together some useful information about expenses that you may be able to claim. These expenses may include costs related to phone and internet, electricity, items such as paper and other stationery, and office furniture.
Early release of superannuation funds
The Australian Government is allowing eligible individuals affected by COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019—20 and a further $10,000 in 2020–21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and will not need to include it in their income tax return.
Other financial support measures available to businesses
Full details and further information regarding other key Commonwealth Government measures — including changes to asset write-offs, relief for some tax obligations, backing business investment and assistance for affected regions, communities and industries — is available on the Commonwealth Government's business website.
Deferment of loan payments for small business
On 20 March, Australian banks announced they will defer loan payments for six months, for small businesses affected by COVID-19. On 30 March, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) announced that the threshold for total business loan facilities that could be deferred would be raised from $3 million to up to $10 million.