The federal government has been asked to consider whether financial advice vouchers could be used to ease the financial burden on small businesses seeking help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last six months the federal government has unveiled a ream of fiscal support measures for SMEs in the form of bushfire recovery grants, cashflow boosters, wage subsidies and rent relief.
But overwhelmingly this support has come in the form of programs that utilise the taxation system, therefore requiring small business owners to lean on their financial advisers like never before.
Now, CPA Australia and small business ombudsman Kate Carnell have called on the government to create a voucher system for SMEs that are looking to access financial advice to help understand the complexities associated with the coronavirus outbreak and its implications.
In a statement issued yesterday, Carnell said a government-funded system of financial advice vouchers would ensure SMEs can get professional advice once federal government support expires in September.
“Small businesses with cashflow issues, compounded by falling revenue, may find getting the professional financial advice they need unaffordable. The ramifications of this could be devastating, both for the business and its owner and family, down the line,” Carnell said.
How would the financial advice vouchers? Well, business owners and accountants would apply for vouchers covering services provided by an accredited professional.
The advisor would then be paid directly by the government, rather than by the small business themselves.
It’s also expected this measure would help support accountants and financial advisors, who have been working an increased number of unbillable hours for clients organising JobKeeper and other pandemic-related financial stresses.
CPA Australia executive general manager of policy and advocacy, Gary Pflugrath, says the government should utilise policies like the voucher system to taper off support for small businesses from September.
“Existing COVID-19 measures should be withdrawn from September in an orderly tapered manner, balancing the need to support businesses that are viable in the longer-term against the limited benefit in sustaining businesses that have little or no chance of recovery,” he said in a statement.
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