In mid-November, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the creation of an Australian Business Securitisation Fund, in a bid to boost the amount of accessible funding that smaller lenders and non-banks could draw on to lend to SMEs.
“Small businesses find it difficult to obtain finance other than on a secured basis — typically, against real estate,” Mr Frydenberg said at the time.
“Even when small businesses can access finance, funding costs are higher than they need to be.”
The move was heralded as a major win for Australia’s SME community, with Professor Andrew Conway of the Institute of Public Accountants labelling it as the “biggest structural reforms to small business finance we have seen”.
But a My Business poll shows that business leaders themselves are much less convinced that it will have a meaningful impact on their financing needs.
Of the 137 respondents, 58 (42.3 per cent) actually believe the opposite is true — that funding will become even more difficult to obtain as a result of the fund.
A further 23 (16.8 per cent) believe it will have no change either way, while 16 (11.7 per cent) were unsure.
That leaves less than a third — 40 respondents or 29.2 per cent — seeing real merit in the government’s plan.
Access to finance appears to be much lower down on the list of SME priorities, with late payments remaining one of the more pressing issues: the source of almost half of all business disputes.
Yet the biggest want from employers, in the months leading up to the 2019 federal election, is reforms to employment laws.
“I think they need to make employment laws fairer and easier to navigate for small business before they try and assist them to grow,” said one My Business reader in response to the government’s announcement.
That sentiment sparked a flurry of comments from various business leaders agreeing that employment laws should be priority number one to fuel business growth, with a lack of action actually stifling job creation and growth.
The majority agreed that they too either plan to, or have already commenced, capping or even reducing staff headcount because of the complexity around awards, entitlements and employee provisions.