ASBFEO welcomes small business Budget measures

ASBFEO welcomes small business Budget measures
ASBFEO welcomes small business Budget measures

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson has welcomed the “targeted support” he says last night’s Budget offers small and family businesses.

“[Last night’s] budget represents a financial and strategic commitment to ensuring small and family businesses are digitally enabled, resilient and have the support, incentives, skills and training needed to be truly competitive,” Billson said.

The Ombudsman highlighted the key Budget measures that affect the small-business sector:

Technology investment

Small businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million will have access to a 20 per cent tax deduction for expenses and depreciating assets associated with digital adoption, capped at $100,000 in expenditure.

“This is another incentive for small and family businesses to go digital and invest in items such as cyber security systems, cloud-based service, accounting or e-invoicing software,” Billson said.

“Deeper digital engagement has been the saviour for many small and family businesses throughout the pandemic and this commitment to help SMEs build their digital capacity is an important investment in their future.”

Skills and training

Small businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million will have access to a 20 per cent tax deduction for the cost of external training courses delivered to their employees by providers registered in Australia.

“The cost of training staff can be significant, and this tax deduction will support small and family business owners investing in upskilling staff to drive productivity and competitiveness,” Billson explained.


Changes to PAYG tax and a commitment to reducing associated red tape will offer some cashflow support to small and family businesses. The 10 per cent GDP uplift rate that applies to PAYG and GST instalments will be reduced to 2 per cent for the 2022-23 financial year, subject to the legislation being passed in parliament.

“We welcome the government’s proposed update of the PAYG system from early 2024 to allow for PAYG to be calculated in real time, based on the how the business is tracking financially,” Billson said. “These proposed changed would provide an automatic refund of tax paid in the year if a company with PAYG instalment obligations reports a substantially lesser profit than anticipated or indeed a loss.”

Links between Single Touch Payroll data from the ATO and state governments means tax returns and other forms can be pre-filled – a change the government estimates will benefit about 170,000 businesses that pay payroll tax.

COVID recovery support

The Government has pledged $146 million to support the recovery of the Australian tourism sector in response to the pandemic impact, including further assistance for travel agents.

An additional $38 million will be allocated to the arts sector, including independent cinemas, to assist with its recovery. And $80 million will go to supporting small and medium export businesses to help re-establish their businesses in overseas markets.

“We’ve heard first-hand from small and family businesses that have had their COVID recovery impaired by closed borders, restriction of movement and disruptions to international supply chains and these measures will be welcomed,” Billson said.

New apprentices and trainees

The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement wage subsidy, which provides employers with 12 months of wage subsidy support, has been extended by three months to 30 June 2022.

Fuel excise

The budget provides for halving the excise on petrol and diesel from 44 cents per litre to 22 cents per litre for six months.

SME procurement

New procurement rules will make it easier for SMEs to secure Commonwealth contracts.

Under the proposed changes, government departments will be required to split up major projects, to give smaller contractors a greater chance at competing for the work.

There will also be more opportunities for SMEs in the defence arena, with the department permitted to purchase directly from SMEs or use tenders limited to SMEs, for contracts worth up to $500,000.

“SMEs are now securing about a quarter of Commonwealth Government contracts and should be getting a larger slice of the pie,” Billson averred. “Unbundling procurement contracts into more manageable components will level the playing field and enabling small businesses to be better places to contest and win that work.”

Improved connectivity

Small and family businesses in rural, regional and peri-urban areas will benefit from a substantial upgrade to NBN fixed wireless services. $480 million has been allocated to extend the coverage range from towers and increase the speed of services to customers. $4.8 million will go towards extending the Mobile Network Hardening Program to support network resilience upgrades in regional Australia.

Payment Times Reporting Portal and Register

$10.4 million to enhance and redesign the Payment Times Reporting Portal and Register to provide greater transparency about payment times.

Access to expert advice

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman will receive $8 million to work with proven service providers to offer business planning, capacity building and financial literacy.

Fair Work Commission

A dedicated unit will be created in the Fair Work Commission to support small businesses including with unfair dismissal and general protections disputes. The $5.6 million measure will help small and family businesses navigate their workplace relations responsibilities and dealings with the commission.

New access for small-business owners

The Government has renewed funding for the mental health program tailored to small business owners. An additional $4.6 million in funding will ensure Beyond Blue’s New Access for Small Business Owners program can expand and continue to assist small business owners who need mental health support.

“Beyond Blue’s successful New Access for Small Business Owners program will continue to offer free one-on-one telehealth sessions with specially trained mental health coaches providing evidence-based advice on strategies for managing stress,” Billson explained.

Small business debt Helpline

$2.1 million has also been allocated to extend the Small Business Debt Helpline for 2022.

“This financial counselling support is welcome, particularly for small-business owners who have loans secured against the family home and are uncertain about their future,” Billson concluded.

This article was first published on sibling website Inside Small Business.