The Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has hit and spread across the world at an alarming rate. Due to the spread of the virus, a range of industries have been limited, altered or shutdown altogether. So, how can you safeguard yourself against an economic downturn? Read below to find out more about how a range of people, including small businesses and individuals can survive as well as possible.

Surviving an economic downturn

Please note: Due to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19, this information is current as at 30 April 2020 and may change following this date. For a full overview of the Australian Government's COVID-19 economic response, go to Economic Response to the Coronavirus.

Individuals and Households

Support to individuals and households in this pandemic are listed below:

  • Increase in Government Payments: The government has expanded eligibility for certain types of government payments temporarily – they have also increased the fortnightly payments by $550.00. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. Read more here.
  • Early access to superannuation: The Government is allowing early access of up to $10,000 from their superannuation in 2019-20 and an additional $10,000 in 2020-21. Eligibility includes unemployment, eligibility for certain Centrelink payments or a minimum of 20% decrease in work hours, among other requirements. Read the Treasury Factsheet for more info.
  • Increased household support: Two separate $750.00 payments to various low-income Australians are being provided, including those receiving social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. They are designed to support households to manage the economic impact of COVID-19 and more information can be found here.
  • Mortgage concessions and payment relief: Many financial institutions are commencing the halt or decrease of mortgage repayments, so head to your bank's website to find out what they are offering. Head to Aus Banking to see what your bank has to offer.
  • Reduction in Superannuation Rates for Retirees: To assist retirees, superannuation minimum drawdown requirements are being reduced, as well as reducing social security deeming rates. Find out more here.
  • Reduction of social security deeming rates: A reduction in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates to reflect the low interest rate environment and its impact on the income from savings. Read more here.
  • ATO Administration Relief: Tax concessions are being provided for existing ATO debts accrued on/after 23 January 2020. They may allow affected businesses to enter into low-interest payment plans for their existing and ongoing tax liabilities, however this does not occur automatically. Call the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 when you require these measures to commence and they can provide the appropriate assistance.

In addition to the above, the JobKeeper program is providing support to stood down individuals, read more about this below.

If you need further assistance when it comes to individual payments during the current economic downturn, head to one of the following:

Businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on lots of businesses, so a range of schemes and support available to assist all difference sized businesses have been created.

  • JobKeeper: If the Coronavirus has significantly impacted your business, you will be able to access ther JobKeeper payment to continue paying your employees. Under the JobKeeper program, you will be able to claim $1,500 a fortnight per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for up to six months. The aim of this payment is to keep staff employed and assist in restarting when the COVID-19 crisis is over. For more information in relation to JobKeeper payments for employers, head to the Employers Factsheet and the Supporting Businesses Factsheet.
  • Support to employ trainees and apprentices: If you are a business that employs apprentices and/or trainees, contact your AASN (Australian Apprenticeship Support Network) provider as you may be eligible for some kind of subsidy arrangement. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 9 months, commencing 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where you are not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter). Learn more here.
  • Cashflow Boost for Employers: The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses with a minimum payment of $20,000. Any small and medium-sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. Head here for further information.
  • Incentive to invest in your business: To assist with business investment and economic growth both during and after Coronavirus, a time limited 15-month investment incentive, valid through to 30 June 2021, is being introduced by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost. More information can be found here.
  • Increase of the instant asset write-off: The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000. Access to this will be expanded to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. Read more here.
  • Regulatory Flexibility and relief from corporations Act provisions: To assist those businesses that face financial distress due to COVID-19, the Government is temporarily increasing the threshold for the issuing of statutory demands on a company, as well as the time that companies have to respond to any statutory demands they receive. Also included is temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide temporary and targeted relief from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis. Find out more here.
  • Banking and Loan Concessions: A variety of institutions are commencing the halt or decrease of loan repayments for a period of time, usually around 6 months, so head to your bank's website to find out what they are offering to their business customers.

The Treasury has created a Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit to 'build on existing efforts to support confidence, employment and business continuity.' Find out more about how they may be able to assist you here.

For more business information, head to visit Business.gov.au.

Sole Traders

Sole Traders are eligible to receive the JobSeeker payment if they have a reduced downturn or loss of business due to COVID-19. Take a look at the Payment and Service Finder on the Services Australia website for more information - centrelink.gov.au - and there is examples of sole traders applying for payments here.

Charities and Non-For-Profits

Finally, some charities and not-for-profits (NFPs) may also be eligible:

  • Boosting cash flow: Up to $100,000 is to be provided to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and NFPs that employ people, with a minimum $20,000 payment. More information can be found here.

An amount of $1 billion has been put aside to assist severely affected regions and sectors both during the pandemic and during the recovery period - learn more here.

Resources:

The Treasury (Supporting Individuals and Households): https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/households

The Treasury (Support for Businesses): https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses