COSBOA welcomes the positive measures for small businesses in the NSW state budget which was released earlier this week. Of particular significance are additional funding for the NSW Small Business Commissioner,12-month extensions of payroll tax cuts and the $1500 fees and charges rebate, reduced payment times for small business contractors involved with government contracts, and a 1-month extension of Dine and Discover voucher system.
COSBOA Interim CEO Alexi Boyd said “overall it’s a very positive budget for small businesses in New South Wales.The state small business commissioners have been outstanding during COVID-19 and it’s fantastic to see that being recognised with funding for additional mediation support and customer service staff. The low-cost mediation they offer for small businesses who need to resolve disputes with their landlords is such an important service because small business people often don’t have the money or resources to go down the traditional legal route.”
Ms Boyd continued “Maintaining the cuts to payroll tax for another 12 months is an obvious win for SMEs. Anything that frees up cash is important, especially in these times. We know that many business owners view payroll tax as a burden and a tax on employment; when we surveyed COSBOA members about government assistance measures during COVID-19, they rated payroll tax waivers and deferrals as having the third highest positive impact on small businesses.”
Ms Boyd further continued “The Shorter Small Business Payment Times policy is also excellent news. It’s a frustrating aspect of running a business that larger companies sometimes deliberately take their time paying your invoices. Delayed payment times cause a lot of anguish for small business people and also have a negative impact on the economy. It’s great to see governments setting a good example in this area.”
However, the NSW budget has a few weaknesses. Difficulty finding staff is one of the biggest issues facing small business owners currently and measures to address this issue were not included in the budget. Although the NSW Government is investing in vocational education and training (VET), its initiatives in this area appear disconnected from the business community. We would like to see a placed-based approach where the business community are engaged for better utilisation of the newly, under and long term unemployed within community.
Ms Boyd said “We gave this budget a 7.5/10 rather than a 10/10 because of its weakness in the skills area. NSW’s Skilling for Recovery Program is excellent but lacks a direct connection with those small businesses that have job vacancies they can’t fill. There’s no effective brokerage system to match people who complete vocational courses with employers. By comparison, Victoria and Queensland have committed to address the recruitment problem through Jobs Victoria Employment Services, Regional Jobs Committees, and Queensland Workforce Summits.
"We would like to see a placed-based approach where business communities are engaged for better utilisation of the newly, under and long-term unemployed within the community. ”
Ms Boyd continued “We would have also liked to see a clear plan for supporting small business in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak and associated restrictions. It’s essential to create support packages in advance so that small businesses know what to expect and can plan accordingly.”
Ms Boyd concluded “That said, the positives of this budget outweigh the negatives. NSW has proven to be one of Australia’s most small business friendly governments once again.”
COSBOA also commented on the last week's QLD state budget, which you can read here.
You can read our commentary on this year's federal budget here.