FEDERAL BUDGET 2012: $8.3 million for Small Business Commissioner

The Federal Government will spend $8.3 million over four years to establish an Australian Small Business Commissioner, while the Small Business Support Line will be extended.

The government has confirmed it will appoint an Australian Small Business Commissioner to “represent and advocate small business interests to the government”.

A total of $1.1 million has been allocated for the establishment of the role in 2012-13, followed by $2 million in 2013-14, $1.8 million in 2014-15, and $3.5 million in 2015-16.

The prospect of a Federal small business commissioner has been on the cards for a while, with small business lobbyist Peter Strong particularly supportive of the idea.

Strong has argued a Federal commissioner could consult with the various state commissioners and report back to the government, essentially acting as a go-between.

There’s also extra funding for the Small Business Advisory Service (SBAS), which funds service providers to help small businesses through additional support and advisory services.

An additional $27.5 million will be spent on SBAS over the next four years, which was due to end on June 30 this year.

According to Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor, the extension of the SBAS will help those starting out, namely by offering assistance with applications for finance.

“Since it was introduced in the 2008-09 budget, SBAS has provided over 354,000 separate advisory services to more than 187,000 small businesses,” O’Connor said in a statement.

“More than 90% of users surveyed said they would recommend the service to other small businesses.”

Service providers will be invited to make submissions for future funding rounds, with applications assessed through a competitive, merit-based process.

Meanwhile, the Small Business Support Line, which provides information and referral services, will be extended to 2015-16.

The support line – which received an extra $7.1 million in last year’s budget – provides advice on issues such as obtaining finance, cashflow management and retail leasing.

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