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SMEs need structural reform not fiscal from the Federal Budget, says COSBOA

As federal budget night approaches, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) has released an abridged version of its submission to the Treasurer.

COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd said “We’re at a historic moment in time where we risk losing small businesses from our communities. The compounding effects of COVID-19 increasing debt, fatigue, worker shortages, cost pressures from supply chain and the ongoing burden of keeping workplaces safe has led to many previously strong, viable small business vulnerable to closure. This, in an inequitable environment where big businesses have emerged from the pandemic stronger than before.”

“Our primary ask this year isn’t fiscal. Instead, we’re focussing on the structural levers that the Government can pull to make small business owners’ lives easier and keep successful small businesses trading and thriving in the post-COVID environment.”

COSBOA’s 2022 Small Business Strategy Paper has three pillars:

  • Streamlining regulation
  • Targeted, needs-based support during post-COVID growth
  • Industry associations as a priority channel for business support.

The submission makes recommendations in the areas of better regulation, the digital economy, cyber security, visa workers, industrial relations, payments, access to finance, education and training, tax and super, insurance, competition policy, health, NBN infrastructure, energy, sustainability, and exporting of goods and services.

Ms Boyd said “We’re recommending measures like suspending the introduction of any new compliance processes while small businesses recover, extending the removal of the working caps on certain visa holders, reviewing the ACCC’s merger test, harmonising state-based regulation, and improving business consultation processes.”

“Our recommendations include some we have been suggesting for many years, such as extending the instant asset write-off; lowering the cost of accepting debit card payments by mandating least cost routing; and a small business model schedule to be inserted into all awards.”

Ms Boyd added “Though the primary focus is structural reform, we do have a small wish list of initiatives that would require funding, such as a training program to empower small businesses to understand and better respond to cyber security threats.”

“Our main ask regarding government-funded programs to empower small businesses is for them to be delivered through trusted pathways such as industry associations as a priority. Association leaders stepped up during the pandemic; demonstrating their ability to quickly translate information from policy makers in Canberra to small business owners on the ground.

“Associations have existing communication networks reaching thousands of small business owners, know the peculiarities of their sector, and are a trusted source of information. Harnessing this is one of the best ways to reach small business people.”

Ms Boyd concluded “Small business needs time to breathe. That’s why COSBOA is looking for structural initiatives that make small business owners’ lives easier – initiatives that streamline compliance processes, initiatives that harness the existing pathways used by small business owners to access advice and support, and initiatives that empower small businesses with the tools they need to grow and thrive in the post-COVID world.”

Read the abridged submission here.

Souce: COSBOA

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