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2020-05-03 Industry News
Author: Satterley

COVID-19 Relief in Australia

We are currently navigating uncharted territory as the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our health and economic systems however we are fortunate that the Government and lenders are acting quickly to put in place strategies that can help soften the blow for individuals, households and businesses. If you’re feeling the pinch or your employment circumstances have changed there are options available and help if you need it.

BANKS

Mortgage

The major banks are now all offering relief to both personal and business customers, and this includes options such as pausing your mortgage for six months if you are suffering financial hardship. This will mean pausing repayments for the immediate future but usually means interest will still accrue in the background. Contact your lender or visit their website to find out what assistance they have made available and how to apply.

Many banks are also reducing minimum home loan repayments for many of their customers. It’s worth keeping in mind that this is an excellent way of freeing up cash if you’re feeling the pinch, but is entirely optional. If your bank is automatically reducing your payments to the minimum amount you also have the option of changing them back to what you had set previously.

Credit Card/ personal loans

Some banks have offered pause on payments and interest for a period of three months. Provided your account is not in arrears, and you haven’t reached your credit limit, you’ll be able to continue using your credit card during this period. Contact your bank to see if you qualify for this option

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has confirmed that Australians who are given six-month deferrals on their loan repayments for mortgage or other credit product, including credit cards, will not have their credit rating affected by that deferral, provided they were up to date with repayments prior to COVID-19.

Speak to your bank or mortgage broker to see what relief options are available to you

JOBS

JobKeeper

The JobKeeper Payment is a wage subsidy program that aims to help businesses and keep people in jobs throughout the crisis with the aim being that employers retain their workforce so that they can quickly restart business once the crisis is over. The JobKeeper Payment is also available to people who are self-employed, even if they do not have employees.

Employees will be notified from their employer if the business is eligible to receive JobKeeper payments. Businesses with a turnover of less than $1 billion will need to show that their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month). If their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more, they need to prove turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month).

If you as an employer decide to participate in the JobKeeper Payment scheme, you must nominate all your eligible employees. Eligible employees are were employed defined as:

  • being employed by the employer at 1 March 2020
  • are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020)
  • are at least 16 years of age
  • are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder
  • are not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

The subsidy will start on 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by employers in the first week of May.

JobSeeker

To help those who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility criteria for some income support payments for individuals to make it easier to claim. In addition, a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement will also be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight to both existing and new recipients of eligible JobSeeker (formerly Newstart) payment categories for six months from 27 April 2020.

If you have lost your job as a result of COVID-19 and your employer does not qualify for JobKeeper payments this may be the option for you. The easiest way to claim the JobSeeker payments is to do so via MyGov with an account linked to Centerlink.

JobKeeper is designed to keep Australians working through the COVID-19 crisis

HOUSEHOLDS

Relief Payments

The Federal Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those that benefit are pensioners. These payments will support households to manage the economic impact of the Coronavirus.

  • The first payment (announced on 12 March 2020) will be available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders at any time from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 inclusive.
  • The second payment (announced on 22 March 2020) will be available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders on 10 July 2020.

A one-off Crisis Payment is also available for those in severe financial hardship who need to self-isolate or are caring for someone who is self-isolating. This payment is one week of an individual’s base income support payment. Visit https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/crisis-payment to apply if this if applicable to your circumstances.

Utilities

Utility companies are offering payment plans and financial assistance to struggling households. Most companies will freeze any planned increases to regulated electricity prices for household electricity until at least July 2021 and no one will have their power disconnected until at least 30 September because of late bill payments. In addition, no interest will be charged on deferred bill payments as a result of COVID-19 hardship.

Households struggling during the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for a host of different relief packages

SUPERANNUATION

From 20 April 2020, you may be able to apply to access up to $10,000 of your superannuation early in this financial year (2019-20) and another $10,000 between 1 July 2020 and 24 September 2020, for the 2020-21 year. Eligibility criteria include:

  • Being eligible to receive a Jobseeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers or parenting payment.
  • As of January, 1 2020, being a Sole Trader or Business that has suffered more than 20 per cent loss in turnover.
  • As of January, 1 2020, having had your working hours reduced by more than 20 per cent.
  • Being unemployed or having been made redundant.

If you meet these requirements, you won't pay tax on the super you withdraw and it won't affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

BUSINESS SUPPORT

Many businesses are facing unexpected financial burdens and the Government is helping with a range of measures available to help ease those stresses including:

  • Providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits that employ people.
  • Providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses.
  • Increase the instant asset write-off to $150,000.
  • Provide a 15-month business investment incentive.
  • Subsidise up to 50 per cent of apprentice and trainee wages for nine months.

For more information and updates on other financial support available in your state or territory, visit business.gov.au.

How can Satterley help?

We are working carefully with individuals effected by COVID-19 to ensure their home building and buying dreams can remain on track. With interest rates at an all time low and our End of Financial year campaign well under way our Estate Mangers are on-hand to make sure you can get a great deal on your dream lot and location. We are open for face-to-face appointments with strict social distancing and hygiene practises in place but can also arrange video and teleconferencing appointments if that suits you better.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a finance professional such as an adviser.

REFERENCES

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_sheet-Payments_to_support_households_0.pdf

https://www.synergy.net.au/Covid-19/Helping-you-at-home?pid=pro:Help%20at%20home

https://www.ausbanking.org.au/a-covid-19-mortgage-deferral-wont-affect-your-credit-rating/ 

https://www.business.gov.au/Risk-management/Emergency-management/Coronavirus-information-and-support-for-business/JobKeeper-Payment-for-employers-and-employees

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment/how-claim

https://www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/financial-hardship/  

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/31/australian-economic-stimulus-package-how-much-governments-have-committed-to-coronavirus-crisis

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