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28 March 2020

Business hibernation the only option to save struggling small businesses: Ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s COVID-19 business hibernation concept.

“The only way for small businesses to survive the coming months is if they can effectively hit pause for the time being,” Ms Carnell says.

“For businesses to bounce back when this health crisis is over, they need a holiday from all costs that they incur during this extremely difficult period.

“Small businesses – including those that are forced to shut their doors as well as those who suffer a significant loss of income – should be able to go into business hibernation.

“Understandably, the details of the government’s business hibernation plan are still being considered.

“It’s a mammoth effort that requires everyone to come together and be a part of the solution.

“Landlords, utility and service providers, telecommunications and all levels of government will need to put their fees and charges on hold or face losing that customer altogether if there is a tidal wave of insolvencies.

“Part of this needs to be a wage subsidy for staff that remain attached to the business. Those staff would need to be paid at least 60% of their wage up to a maximum monthly amount. This of course would need a minimum safety net built in.

“My office, as always, is working with the small business community to ensure we are advocating for the best way forward.

“Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy and need our support more than ever right now.

“We are at a critical tipping point, but we can get through this if we work together.”