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16 July 2020

Ombudsman applauds comprehensive NAB SME COVID recovery report

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says a new report released today by NAB provides comprehensive analysis on key SME pain points and reforms to support SMEs impacted by the COVID crisis.

Ms Carnell says the “Supporting Economic Recovery – What We Can Do For Small Business” report commissioned by NAB, reveals the extent to which small business’ efforts to grow their business are hampered by unnecessary burdens.

“This report confirms the enormous pressures small businesses are under and the need for reforms to help these SMEs – many of which were viable and strong just a few months ago – get back on their feet and thrive again,” Ms Carnell says.

“Many of the reforms recommended in this report are simple and will make it easier to do business - which of course has broader economic benefits.

“The report shines a light on the difficulties small businesses face when hiring new workers, with owners spending up to 18 hours on compliance before hiring their first employee. That’s about 5 times more than a large business with more than 200 employees.

“It takes time to understand awards, pay rates and other obligations. This is where regtech could be a game-changer for small businesses trying to navigate our complex regulatory system.

“Put simply, small businesses will be more likely to hire new staff if it’s easier to do.”

The report also finds red tape costs small businesses $9.3 billion per year, with 7 out of 10 reporting government red tape is a burden that detracts from their business.

“My office has made a number of recommendations in regards to ways government could be cutting red tape,” Ms Carnell says.

“This report backs many of our recommendations, particularly in relation to tax compliance, where the cost for small businesses ($90 per $1,000 turnover) is 225 times higher than the cost for big business ($0.40).

“Overall, I believe this report and its eight-point package of reforms is worthy of government implementation.”