Coronavirus update for business: JobKeeper for landlords, free childcare support, and investment for coronavirus-busting startups

Childcare system

Childcare lifeline

The Prime Minister has announced the government will pay for childcare services for parents who are still working — whatever that work entails.

The $1.6 billion pledge, officially coming into effect from Monday, will provide much-needed support for childcare centres, but could also feasibly provide extra support to small businesses owners working to keep their doors open.

“I won’t cop a situation where a parent is put in that place with their kids,” the Prime Minister said.

Support for Indigenous business

The government has also launched a $123 million financial support package for Indigenous businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 crisis, to be rolled out over two years.

Some $50 million of this has been directed to Indigenous Business Australia. It is expected to include access to specialist advice on adapting and recovering from the economic downturn, as well as support in applying for other support packages available, plus additional funding arrangements.

However, full details have not yet been released.

Cash up for grabs

Early-stage VC and startup generator Antler is launching a global competition, inviting startups with big ideas on how to tackle the COVID-19 crisis to pitch for $US500,000 ($826,300) in investment.

Antler is looking for businesses with solutions for mitigating the spread of the virus, development of medical equipment, remote health and other digital tools that could help communities and economies on the path to recovery.

After a screening process and video pitch session, five startups will be selected for the funding, based on both their relevance towards mitigating the crisis, and their viability post-COVID-19.

“We are calling on the brightest to create solutions that help guarantee the global community can recover, and grow, following the crisis,” said Antler chief Magnus Grimeland.

“We believe that the technologies created during this crisis will have the potential to create a fairer and better future.”

Applications are open until April 15.

Cash grabbed

Judo Bank has become the first non-bank lender to officially cash in on the government’s SME lending scheme, securing $500 million to lend out to small and medium businesses.

Judo will invest half into its lending warehouse, where it will be used to offer credit to Aussie SMEs. The other half will be invested through the government’s Structured Finance Support Fund, offering easier access to credit for struggling small businesses.

JobKeeper for landlords

According to The Age, the national cabinet is considering extended the $130 billion JobKeeper scheme to include commercial landlords, in order to prevent a total collapse in commercial real estate as shopping centre and office tenants struggle to pay the bills.

Some retailers are reportedly refusing to pay rent, as COVID-19 social distancing laws force them to close. That means both renters and landlords are lacking cashflow.

“Technically, retailers ceasing rental payments and closing stores constitute a breach of their leases. Some tenants have raised health and safety concerns to justify closure, but that will depend on the individual circumstances,” property lawyer Kitty Vo said.

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