Small business ombudsman backs viability voucher program call to support with EOFY

by Freya Lucas

July 08, 2020

Australia’s Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has announced her support for a proposal by the nation’s peak accounting bodies who have called on the Government to provide small businesses, including those operating in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) space, with better access to financial advice through a voucher system.

 

CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and NZ have issued a joint statement requesting a government-funded voucher system to ensure small businesses can access urgently needed professional advice on their viability once stimulus measures end.

 

For the ECEC sector, this call is especially urgent, with CCS and JobKeeper measures being wound back this month for much of Australia. 

 

The proposal is in line with ASBFEO’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, which recommends a small business viability voucher program.

 

“Small businesses have endured some of the toughest trading conditions we’ve ever seen in Australia over the past few months,” Ms Carnell said, outlining that 900,000 businesses are getting JobKeeper payments and about 690,000 businesses have received emergency cash flow assistance, while 38 per cent of businesses still trading have renegotiated their rent arrangements. 

 

“Small businesses with cash flow 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,” she added.

 

The establishment of a small business viability voucher program, where small business owners facing financial stress can obtain a voucher valued up to $5,000 to access tailored advice on how and whether to turn around their business, would support businesses of all types during this challenging time.

 

“Under the program, a business owner (or their accountant) would apply for the voucher with services provided by a relevant accredited professional, which would ensure small businesses have access to expertise in judging business viability, so they can make an informed decision about whether to turn their business around or exit,” Ms Carnell said. 

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