Posted on Wednesday, 2nd April, 2020
Restrictions on trading across the country due to COVID-19 are taking hospitality businesses into uncharted territory. From Thursday 27 March 2020, restaurants and cafés were prohibited from providing sit-down service in line with social distancing measures. While businesses may still offer delivery and takeaway meals, some have chosen to close altogether.
Since it can be hard to quickly locate relevant industry-by-industry information, we’ve compiled an up-to-the-minute resource of assistance packages that are available to the hospitality sector today.
- Complete your Q3 BAS statement by 28 April in order to access the federal government’s cashflow support.
- Talk to your bank about a six-month business loan repayment holiday.
- If your earnings have dwindled, discuss the possibility of rent relief with your landlord.
- Check the COVID-19 response website for your state or territory and learn about the assistance being offered. To find out more, read this related article.
- For ideas and support from your counterparts in hospitality, join the “Growth, Strategy, and Exit Planning For Café Owners” page on Facebook here.
Venues employing staff could be eligible for the federal government’s temporary cash flow support programme. As part of its second economic stimulus package, announced on 22 March, eligible businesses can receive two tax-free payments of between $20,000 and $100,000. However, the second payment will only be made to businesses that continue to operate.
Payments will be automatically calculated by the Australian Tax Office and managed through the Business Activity Statement system, so there is no requirement to apply for these payments. For eligibility and examples, visit: business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers
Do this: Submit your Business Activity Statement by 28 April to quickly and efficiently receive cash flow support payments.
Additionally, the federal government is offering a scheme wherein it will pay 50% of apprentice and trainee wages for a nine-month period until 30 September 2020. For more information, visit: business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/Supporting-apprentices-and-trainees
Do this: Register with an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider at www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/search-aasn
On a case-by-case basis, the Australian Tax Office is providing relief from some tax obligations for businesses affected by COVID-19.
Do this: Request assistance or find out more by calling the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.
If your business is having trouble meeting its rental payments due to a significant downturn in sales, it’s worth talking with your landlord to see what room they have to move. While you are still obligated to meet the terms of your lease, the right approach could result in some relief in rent and/or outgoings.
However, experts are warning businesses against rushing into agreements with landlords, such as extending a lease in return for rent relief, as it could have an adverse impact in the coming years.
Tim Maunsell, a commercial property adviser who runs Maunsell Property Consultants, shared on www.commercialrealestate.com.au that he is advising tenants to stay put, pay what they can afford, and talk to the landlord about their particular situation.
“It’s very tough for those who’ve had to close shop and aren’t receiving any income to still pay rent, like some in retail or hospitality,” he said.
It is important to note the National Cabinet has agreed to a moratorium on evictions for the next six months for commercial tenants who are experiencing financial distress due to the impact of COVID-19.
A positive announcement was made on Monday 30 March 2020 by the Australian Banking Association (ABA), saying its members will allow commercial landlords with loans of up to $10 million to have a six-month loan repayment holiday, on the proviso they do not evict any tenants.
Do this: Start by making a polite and professional approach to your landlord stating the facts around your specific situation. Expect further announcements from the federal and state governments around protection for businesses that can’t pay their rent. Ensure you consult a solicitor before entering into any new agreement with your landlord.
The ABA has also announced that banks will defer for six months loan repayments by small businesses with total business loan facilities of up to $10 million. They are offering to fast track approvals. It is expected that this move will save businesses around $8 million.
Do this: Contact your bank immediately to get clarity on their specific deferment terms. For general information about other measures the banking sector is taking, visit the ABA at www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/financial-hardship/
If you own a food franchise, you may be able to access relief from your franchisor. At this stage there is no uniform approach across the franchising industry. Some franchisors are closing stores while others are suspending or discounting royalty and marketing fees, extending payment terms, and offering rebates on supplies.
Do this: Talk to your franchisor to find out what actions they are taking to protect your business.