February 8, 2021
CHANGES to JobKeeper and residual financial challenges could present more hardship for Southern Queensland Small Businesses that were in trouble before COVID said Small Business Financial Counselling Program (SBFCP) Coordinator, Jo Tardent.
The SBFCP identified JobKeeper changes and the recommencement of deferred loan repayments as stress points for small businesses across the state while new insolvency laws offered some support as businesses closed.
“As deferred bank loan repayments restart and deferred rent is due, we’re going to see a lot of people whose cash flow hasn’t recovered enough to pay both current expenses and deferred expenses,” Mrs Tardent said.
“On a positive note, new insolvency laws came into effect in January allowing owners of financially distressed but viable small businesses to explore options to restructure debts and continue to trade rather than close.”
To explore insolvency options, small business owners must make an application to ASIC by the 31st March 2021.
The SBFCP supports small business owners experiencing or at risk of experiencing financial hardship.
“We can assist with preparations for financial meetings and bank negotiations, cash flow and financial statement preparation, commercial tenancy disputes and financial payment plans,” she said, “We support clients dealing with some confronting situations including repossessions, tense negotiations, and complicated financial situations.”
A relatively new assistance mechanism is the Professional Services Fund whereby clients are eligible for up to $5000 of specialist professional advice.
“Case managed clients unable to pay for the services of a professional advisor can access the Professional Services Fund to engage advisors for things like business restructure and legal advice, online marketing and website creation and development, contract examination and other specialists aspects of improving their business.”
Mrs Tardent said one of her clients utilised the funds to get specialist feedback and advice on a cancellation policy which had been tested with COVID cancellations, while another developed their website to increase online sales activity.
The Federal government funded Professional Services Fund is delivered by the SBFCP and is available to businesses with up to 19 employees in specific regions of Southern Queensland.
The SBFCP provides free, independent financial counselling to small businesses in both metropolitan and regional Queensland employing 12 small business counsellors in Southern Queensland Region.
“Small Businesses experiencing financial hardship as a result of drought, bushfires and or COVID19 are eligible to utilise our services,” Mrs. Tardent said, “our primary focus is client support as we help business owners identify, address and work through financial difficulties.”
Contact the SBFCP on 1300 732 777 or visit www.rfcssq.org.au