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COVID-19 Government financial support for families and small business owners

Financial support for families during the coronavirus crisisHere at the Bub Hub we’ve always made it our aim to provide sensible, practical and up-to-date advice to parents and parents-to-be so they can make informed decisions when it comes to fertility, pregnancy, and raising children.

Now, more than ever before, parents need a clear voice amid the confusion. And with that in mind, we’ve consulted a range of experts to discuss the only thing many of us are thinking about at the moment — the coronavirus or COVID-19.

Here we speak to accountant Brad Ryan about the Government assistance packages for families, individuals and business owners.

The Federal Government has announced a second-stage economic package that aims to assist families, workers who have lost their jobs and small business owners.

Some of these measures include:

The Coronavirus Supplement

  • The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.
  • This supplement be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment (formerly Newstart), Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
  • Expanded access to the Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker criteria will provide payment access for permanent employees who are stood down or lose their employment.
  • The expanded eligibility applies to sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who meet the income tests as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus.
  • This could also include a person required to care for someone who is affected by the Coronavirus.
  • The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next 6 months. Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight. The Coronavirus Supplement and expanded access for payments will commence from 27 April 2020.

Payments to support households

In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced on 12 March 2020, the Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders, except for those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement.

This second payment will be made automatically from 13 July 2020 to around 5 million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those who will benefit will be pensioners.

The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 to people who will have been on one of the eligible payments any time between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.

Small Business assistance

The Federal Government has advised that it will significantly increase the assistance for small businesses that employ people with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million (including not-for-profits).

To be eligible your business must have been registered as an employer by 12 March 2020.The enhanced assistance is as follows:

  1. Initial Payment – After lodgement of March Business Activity Statement (28 April 2020). Employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their PAYG Withholding (up from 50 per cent) with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000.
  2. In addition the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000.

Additional Payment(s)

To qualify for the additional payment, the entity must continue to be active.

  1. For monthly activity statement lodgers, the additional payments will be delivered as an automatic credit in the activity statement system. This will be equal to a quarter of their total initial payment following the lodgement of their June 2020, July 2020, August 2020 and September 2020 activity statements (up to a total of $50,000).
  2. For quarterly activity statement lodgers the additional payments will be delivered as an automatic credit in the activity statement system. This will be equal to half of their total initial payment following the lodgement of their June 2020 and September 2020 activity statements (up to a total of $50,000).

What to do next?

In order to access this assistance it is important that you keep your activity statement lodgements up to date so that the credits or refunds can be processed to your account as and when they become due.

Access to superannuation

The Federal Government has introduced changes to the superannuation system to provide temporary relief for individuals to deal with the effect of COVID 19.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020.

They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for approximately three months (exact timing will depend on the passage of the relevant legislation)

In order to be eligible you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

  • you are unemployed; you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance;
  • On or after 1 January 2020: you were made redundant; or your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more; or If you are a sole trader — your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

People accessing their superannuation will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

—  by Brad Ryan at Coeus Advisers.

Brad and his team have been looking after the Bub Hub for more than 10 years. They pride themselves on providing informed straight forward financial advice which gives their clients the confidence to make appropriate decisions for their circumstances. Visit www.coeusadvisers.com.au for more details

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This article is intended as a general guide to payments in Australia. To check your eligibility based on your own circumstances contact Services Australia.

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4 comments so far -

  1. Hi there,

    I was wondering if you could clear up something for my partner and I if possible.

    Last year in July we had our first baby, since then I have been on my maternity leave and have been receiving payment from work up until last week. My first paid parental leave has officially reached my bank account yesterday, so another 17 more payments to go.

    The problem I’m facing and have been facing is we were really depending on my partner to foot alot of our bills, and as of late January he has gone from full time to 12 hours a week due to low volume, and I’m working for Virgin Australia so I’m not even sure I’ve got a job to come back to, to tackle these bills.

    We’re pretty stressed out thinking about not having a solution to these problems, our savings is on life support already, and his 12 hours a week (he’s been trying to get another job but there’s so many people unemployed now it’s very difficult).

    We are really hoping we have access to super, I know it digs into our retirement but in unprecidentant times we didn’t expect to have a pandemic in the mix. We are both 30 and would really know our options.

    1. Being on paid parental leave, does that fall into parenting payments?

    Kind Regards

    • Hi Nicole. Firstly, congrats on your new baby x

      But I’m so sorry to read about how stressful things have been for your little family.

      Are you receiving Family Tax Benefits? You can’t receive Family Tax Benefit Part B while you’re receiving Parental Leave Pay but you might be eligible for FTB Part A. If so, you should receive the $750 bonus. If you haven’t been receiving FTB A then I suggest applying now (you’ll miss out on the first one but may recieve the second $750). You might be eligible now that your partner is working less. I’d apply online as your details should be saved since applying for Parental Leave Pay.

      I’m afraid Parental Leave Pay isn’t the same as the Parenting Payment, that is an income-support payment for low-income families. You haven’t said how low your income is though — it might be worth looking into for. https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/parenting-payment/how-much-you-can-get/income-and-assets-tests

      You should also chat to your service providers to see if they can help with your bills. Make sure you’re getting the best deal from them. If you have a mortgage ask if they’ll drop the interest rate. Same for personal loans. If you have credit card bills, maybe try a balance transfer. Switch to a cheaper phone plan if you can? Negotiate with your insurance companies etc. You can literally save thousands a year with a few phonecalls.

      I would think that accessing your super should be a last resort after you’ve done the things above. It is hard to imagine but $10,000 is a lot in the future. I found the following info in this article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-23/australians-should-not-dip-into-super-coronavirus/12080208

      For a person who is say, 35, who loses their job in the coming weeks, that $10,000 today will be worth just over $65,000 when they eventually retire in another 35 years.

      And that’s based on the average 5.5 per cent return of conservative funds for the past 15 years — including the period of the global financial crisis.

      In a higher-risk-higher-return portfolio rate, where we’d expect most younger people to be, that figure is closer to $130,000 (such is the beauty of compound interest).

      I know that it’s hard though, and we have to do what we have to do. Here is the eligibility criteria for accessing your super:

      To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:

      -you’re unemployed
      -you’re eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance
      -on or after 1 January 2020 you were made redundant, your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more, or, if you’re a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more.

      I hope this helps. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

      All the best!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

      • Hi There!

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.

        “You haven’t said how low your income is though — it might be worth looking into for.”- He earns around $700-$710 per week with his 12 hours, 8 of those hours are on Sunday rate hence the decent pay. After tax it’s $600.

        We rent a house at $400 per week so there’s no assistance in that and we have already cut down on alot of things to the bone, even changed our phone plans in preparation for baby.

        Before baby we were totally self sufficient, we both have never used Centrelink so we have no idea about family tax etc, never really needed help in regards to money but it just feels like this whole year had compounding new unforeseen bills, health and car bills, like my partner got injured out of work and was required to take 2 months off.

        I think our problem is, and I will assume alot of people will be in this boat, but in 2018-2019 we earned a combined income of around $200,000, and now we are pretty much living on Gross 65k. such a big difference at a rapid decline.

        So we are broke, we don’t qualify for any of those payments, it’s almost asif my partner will get help if he would just quit his job?

        The reason we want to focus on Super is because my partner actually transferred our investments to cash in 2019, which means if we took 20k out of our super, that’s exactly how much our accounts would have decreased had we kept our money in investments. Also when all this blows over, we are young enough to buffer that back up relatively quick.

        So I can understand the cut backs you guys recommend, we have done that, but I feel like we need short-term relief somehow. This stimulus doesn’t seem to fit into our situation if I read correctly?

        Kind Regards,

        Nicole

        • Hi Nicole. Thanks for coming back with more info. It does not sound like you’ve had a good year. And now all this on top. It must be exhausting.

          My advice is to get onto the MyGov website and submit a claim for Family Tax Benefits. What you’ll have to do is estimate what you think your ‘adjusted family income’ will be for THIS financial year. Your maternity leave pay and Government Parental Leave Pay etc will count towards this income amount for you. And it’s ‘family income’ so you’ll also add what your husband earns over the 2019/20 year. The ‘adjusted’ part means you’ll also have to add back some of those big things you might do for tax deduction reasons (fringe benefits, investment property loss, super that you contribute yourself etc) More info on that here: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/what-adjusted-taxable-income/29571

          I think you might get at least some Family Tax Benefits this year and if you’re getting it you should be eligible for the 2nd $750. You can work out how much you might get here: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/family-tax-benefit/how-much-you-can-get/income-test-ftb-part

          But obviously that won’t go very far. Better than nothing, but still…

          So it sounds like you do run a pretty tight ship and you’re both pretty money savvy. Perhaps super is the best way to work through this until things get better. And they will!

          I would also suggest trying to find a financial counsellor. They might have some more tips for you about your super and also about negotiating with some of your creditors. You can find more info here: https://moneysmart.gov.au/managing-debt/financial-counselling

          I hope this helps. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Take care x

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