Update on financial assistance available to small and medium businesses (SMEs)

14 April 2020

This is a summary only, and as at 7 April 2020.  The situation is fast moving so update yourself regularly to ensure you have current information, including from Meerkin & Apel or from https://www.australia.gov.au/ and https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/illness-and-business-management-plan/coronavirus-business-support covering Federal and State Government information.

1.       Defer loan repayments

Repayments on small business loans for up to six months may be able to be deferred and businesses may be able to temporarily stop direct debits. For more information regarding repayment deferral arrangements, speak to your bank today.

2.       Backing Business Investment

The Government is providing a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Please click below for more information.


3.       Increasing the instant asset write-off

The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access. Please click below for more information.


If you require any commercial advice, please contact Rod Saw (rks@meerkinapel.com.au) or Marvin Weinberg (mw@meerkinapel.com.au) of our commercial team at Meerkin & Apel today.

4.       Steps to look after your employees

JobKeeper payments for businesses

  • Businesses with turnover of less than $1 billion -  If your business turnover has dropped or will drop by 30% or more due to coronavirus pandemic relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month) and you are not subject to the Major Bank Levy; or
  • Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests that apply for businesses,

are eligible to apply for the JobKeeper Payment in which the Government pays $1,500 per fortnight for each of your employees (i.e. full time, part time or long term casual employees only).

Please click below for more information:


Please click below to register for this payment:


Other Options

In order to keep your employees employed, you may also be able to negotiate temporary changes to working hours, days or duties with your employees or for them to take part of their annual or long service leave.  This should be done by mutual agreement. 

Stand down employees

For businesses that do not qualify for the JobKeeper payments, depending on the circumstances, they may be able to stand them down without making them redundant. Advice should be sought on this before taking this step

Trainees and Apprentices

Employers can begin registering to receive a 50 percent subsidy for wages paid to apprentices between January to March this year. This will provide urgent financial assistance to help businesses retain their existing apprentices and trainees through the Government’s $1.3 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees package

For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

If you require any employment advice, please contact Gary Katz (gk@meerkinapel.com.au) or Brooke Jolly (bj@meerkinapel.com.au) of our employment team at Meerkin & Apel today.

5.       Additional cash flow boost

From 28 April 2020, the Australian Taxation Office will provide tax-free cash flow boosts of between $20,000 and $100,000 to eligible businesses, delivered through credits in the BAS system, when eligible businesses lodge their BAS.

Please click below for more information and eligibility criteria.


6.       Rent, utility and business outgoings relief

The Federal Government has announced a 6-month moratorium on termination of commercial and residential tenancies for non-payment of rent and for landlords calling on bank guarantees or bonds, based on the tenant being eligible for the JobKeeper payments.

Please click below for more information and eligibility criteria.


If you require any advice on rent relief and negotiations, please contact Marvin Weinberg (mw@meerkinapel.com.au)  or Marilyn Wai (mwai@meerkinapel.com.au) of our commercial team at Meerkin & Apel today.

7.       Directors will not be liable for insolvent trading

The legislation has been relaxed in such a way that directors will not be personally liable for insolvent trading where debts are incurred in the ordinary course of business during this period.

Further, there are changes to the ability of a creditor to pursue a company for relief:

  • Statutory demands against companies: threshold amount increased and time to respond extended.
  • Bankruptcy notice against individuals: threshold amount increased and time to respond extended.
  • Moratorium period for a ‘declaration of intention’ to present a debtor’s petition extended.

Please click below for more information.


If you require any insolvency advice, please contact Howard Chait (hc@meerkinapel.com.au) or Hugh Maclaren (hm@meeerkinapel.com..au) of our insolvency experts in our litigation team at Meerkin & Apel today.