Cautious Budget highlights delicate economic situation, says FCA

Cautious Budget
Jim Chalmers’ cautious Budget has some business-friendly measures. Image Bigstock

Yesterday’s budget showed the challenges of Australia’s economic environment. That’s according to the Franchise Council of Australia.

Mary Aldred, CEO of the Franchise Council of Australia, said franchised small businesses need responsible economic leadership at a national level to build stability and confidence.

“Ninety eight per cent of businesses in Australia are small and medium sized enterprises and franchising is the predominant business model in the sector.

“As identified in our September ‘Pulse Check’ survey, franchised small businesses are contending with inflationary pressures, supply chain risks, increasing interest rates and, most critically, workforce shortages,” she said.

“This budget delivers a range of direct and indirect benefits for small businesses in four key areas, namely: measures to address workforce shortages, improved internet connectivity, small business mental health support and support for small businesses to become more energy efficient.”

Some measures will help small business

The FCA highlighted some of the measures:

  • The expansion of the permanent Migration Program to 195,000 in 2022–23 and the allocation of $6.2 million to promote migration to Australia.
  • Relaxing work restrictions for student and secondary training visa holders to enable them to work additional hours in any sector until 30 June 2023.
  • $36.1 million to help the Department of Home Affairs recruit an additional 500 staff to boost visa processing capacity.
  • $15.1 million for small business owners across Australia to access free mental health and financial counselling support.
  • $18.6 million in Digital Solutions grants to help small businesses wanting to get online access high quality, independent advice at low cost.
  • $62.6 million for energy efficiency grants designed to help small businesses reduce energy use and lower energy bills.

Aldred described these as “welcome measures” that will help SMEs develop robust plans in a period of global uncertainty. However, she said “regulatory overreach” in areas such as industrial relations represent a threat to small business.