Small business accounting platform Xero has today launched a new function on its software, helping customers navigate confusing eligibility requirements for government support packages amid ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Xero’s COVID-19 business support tool, which went live the same week applications for NSW business grants opened, helps small business owners, accountants and BAS agents figure out if a business qualifies for a payment, and provides a summary to add to applications.
Joseph Lyons, Xero’s regional managing director, said the new tool will allow NSW business owners to quickly assess eligibility to receive financial assistance as soon as possible.
“For small business owners impacted by the ongoing Greater Sydney COVID-19 restrictions, access to government financial assistance is the critical lifeline they need to pull through these uncertain times,” he said.
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MYOB is also encouraging small businesses to access their profit and loss reports on MYOB Essentials and AccountRight Browser platforms to see what government support may work for them.
Applications for NSW grants open
The move by Xero comes as applications open for COVID-19 business grants in NSW.
Grants of between $7,500 and $15,000 are available depending on the decline in turnover a business experienced during a period of at least two weeks while public health orders were enforced.
To be eligible for the grants, businesses must have total annual wages of $10 million or less and annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million. They must also maintain their employee headcount as at July 13, 2021, and have business costs that aren’t covered by other government support.
Next week, applications will open for micro business and JobSaver payments in the state and these two programs will see eligible businesses receive ongoing payments while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
To receive the payments, businesses are required to show their turnover has dropped 30% by comparing revenue levels during the current lockdown to a relevant period in June or July 2019.
However, it’s unclear how businesses established less than one year ago will be able to prove they suffered a 30% decline in turnover due to the lockdown.
Gavin Ord, business policy advisor at CPA Australia, suggests newer businesses should contact Service NSW directly to discuss how they can meet the decline in turnover test.
“Frustrations at the start”
Ord expects confusion around the support payment guidelines to ramp up in the initial weeks after applications open but is hopeful Service NSW will resolve issues quickly as they arise.
“It will work out reasonably okay in the end, but there will be frustrations at the start of this application process,” he tells SmartCompany.
For example, Ord says the guidelines changed between Sunday and Monday, and the guidelines are different to what’s included in the application form.
Ord’s advice for businesses eager to apply for support is not to rush, as applications for the current COVID-19 grants will stay open until mid-September.
As for JobSaver payments, Ord says it’s still unclear how Service NSW will manage the application process, and how businesses will declare and maintain their headcount.
“Does it mean that you can suspend an employee with leave without pay? We still don’t know,” he says.
“There are things that need to be corrected and questions that have been raised that need to be answered.”