A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

JobSaver program changes damage the program, hurt small businesses

When. announced in July this year by the federal government and NSW government, the JobSaver program was claimed to be an easy offer of financial support ro small businesses in NSW impacted by the latest Covid lockdown. It was simple, until last week.

Late Friday last week, the NSW government announced changes to the program, imposing red-tape obligations on businesses that will hinder their access to funds. The folks at Nine Media have the story:

Red tape nightmare: JobSaver changes stun struggling businesses

Struggling businesses relying on income support to survive lockdown fear jobs will be lost in a sea of red tape created by the NSW government after it unexpectedly tightened eligibility tests around its JobSaver program.

Small and medium businesses receiving payments from the JobSaver scheme were surprised by emails on Friday afternoon from Service NSW informing them they would be required to check their operations meet turnover eligibility criteria for every fortnight from September 10. This followed an extension of the scheme as COVID-19 lockdowns continue.

The request stunned businesses, bookkeepers and accountants as they grappled with requests from clients unaware this would be required.

Institute of Certified Bookkeepers chairman Matthew Addison said there had been discussions about proving companies had kept their employees on the books, but the requirement to recalculate turnover declines was unexpected.

“It is just unreasonable,” Mr Addison said. “I had a heart attack on Friday [about the notice] … They don’t quite understand that while, yes, we are in a digitised world and a digital accounting system, businesses are not focused on getting their revenue numbers into the system, they are just focused on keeping the door open.”

I have heard from several retailers over the last few days about the changes. They are frustrated that the government has changed the rules mid-lockdown, imposing a time obligation on them and introducing uncertainty. I helped a couple of them craft complaints to the state and federal governments about this. I also made my own approaches to each.

Several who contacted me claimed that the government wouldn’t make a move like this against big businesses.

I have done my own research, looking at was announced in July and what was sent our late Friday. The rules have changed.

The changes are such that some retailers may feel it’s not worth reapplying.

To me, the changes seem unnecessary at the moment. What was wrong that required this change now? There was no warning. No reports of anything being broken.

It’s as if the federal government and NSW government have decided that small businesses are not that important to them. But, hey, at the next election they will spit out the usual backbone of the country guff.

JobSaver should not have been touched until after NSW was out of lockdown. And then, review, consider, and change if necessary for next time.

Footnote: I am aware that late last night the state government announced a delay to implementation. What I have written above still holds true. Any changes should come after this current lockdown is over.

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  1. Michael

    Well said Mark. Thanks for the help over the weekend on this. It felt better getting it off my chest.


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