Accountant advice scheme crucial post-JobKeeper, government told
The government has been urged to consider providing struggling small businesses with financial incentives to seek advice from their professional adviser once JobKeeper comes to its scheduled end.
The renewed push comes after Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia, the Institute of Public Accountants, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, the ASBFEO and the Council of Small Business Australia made a united call last year for a professional advice subsidy for small businesses.
The proposed subsidy program will see small businesses with up to $10 million in annual turnover eligible to obtain a subsidy valued up to $5,000 to access a tailored 15-month plan from an accredited professional on the next steps in their business recovery.
In its pre-budget submission, CPA Australia has suggested tailoring the support to small businesses receiving JobKeeper payments or businesses in industries that remain under significant financial pressure.
It believes access to advice will be even more critical for businesses once JobKeeper expires at the end of March, and especially so for industries such as tourism and hospitality that continue to be significantly impacted.
“The compounding effect of bushfires, drought, COVID-19, and the upcoming end of JobKeeper makes it even more important for the government to implement this recommendation,” said CPA Australia general manager of external affairs Jane Rennie.
“We think it’s pretty simple: professional advice increases the likelihood and speed of business recovery. Businesses that don’t access professional advice are more likely to underperform and fail.”
The small business viability review program
Modelling by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman suggests that 500,000 small businesses would qualify for the professional advice subsidy, at a cost of $1.5 billion to the government.
The joint proposal by the accounting and small business sectors has two components: the first being a $3,000 voucher for a business owner to seek out an accountant to assess the current financial position and viability of the business, and a further $2,000 to be made available for a registered liquidator if the business is deemed to be non-viable.
There is also precedent for such a program, with Tasmania’s Business Continuity Grant program providing up to $750 for businesses on the Apple Isle to access specialist accounting, legal and business planning advice.