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The recent lockdowns and border closures, seen in every mainland State of the country, are putting almost every small business to the test.  With no JobKeeper to the rescue, the limited Government support is at least being boosted by assistance from our Banks.

This month saw lockdowns in NSW, Vic and SA due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly-contagious Delta strain.

The majority of small businesses in Australia are being impacted in some way.

Many, directly, by having to shut their doors during lockdowns.  Others which are more fortunate to keep trading will be impacted by delays in receiving stock and components from States in lockdown – or from delays in receiving payments from their customers.

While there is Government support available, the Government has kept their hands in the pockets with respect to the highly-successful JobKeeper scheme, introduced at the beginning of the pandemic.

But the Big Four banks have stepped in to offer support to small businesses affected by hardened State lockdown restrictions.  This highlights the need for bank customers to seek the hardship assistance (when required) that is on offer by their bank and know what options are available.

Earlier this month, the Big Four banks announced the following assistance to small businesses:

  • Westpac:

Customers will be able to defer repayments of loans up to $3 million for a maximum of three months, with loan terms extended as required.

Eligible Westpac customers will be offered refunds for merchant terminal fees for up to 3 months; and there will be a waiver of fees and notice periods on Cash Deposit and Farm Management Deposit accounts.

  • CBA

Customers will be offered repayment breaks of up to three months for “better business” loans of up to $3 million.

Eligible businesses are being ‘proactively’ contacted with details of the offer.

  • ANZ

Retail businesses will be offered targeted relief including short-term repayment relief, waiving fees (though the exact fees were not clarified), and restructuring home loan debt or switching to a fixed-rate loan.

ANZ will also be offering broader small business support, such as access to short-term payment relief on asset finance or business loans, refunds on merchant terminal fees and the option to have other fees waived.

  • NAB

Small business customers will be offered “business banking” repayment deferrals of up to three months, with loan terms extended accordingly for small businesses with borrowings less than $3 million and turnover less than $5 million.

At this stage, the assistance measures will be made available to all small businesses that are ‘significantly impacted’ by current lockdowns or recovery from recent lockdowns, regardless of geography or industry.

The measuring stick of ‘significantly impacted’ is yet to be clearly defined, however it is expected that eligibility will be assessed on a case-by-case basis as the measures are rolled out.

Dominic Cantone
Dominic Cantone Partner
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