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Businesses give their verdict on government’s COVID-19 response

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
24 April 2020 2 minute readShare

Business owners across Australia are predominantly satisfied with the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from Momentum Intelligence.

The survey, commissioned by My Business, garnered 6,500 responses and revealed that businesses across accounting, aviation, defence, financial services, law, mortgages and real estate are mainly pleased with the level of support offered by the government.

According to the findings, 74 per cent of all business owners are satisfied with how the government has responded, while 10 per cent revealed their dismay.

Breaking this down across the industries, the highest satisfaction rates were seen in financial services and defence (79 per cent each), while accountants followed closely at 76 per cent.

When asked about the clarity of support packages, again an overwhelming number of business owners said they’re “clear”; however, 12 per cent admitted they are having a hard time navigating the documents.

Speaking to My Business, the head of strategy at Momentum Intelligence, Michael Johnson, said that while the Australian government has mostly received support for its rapid injection of funds into the economy, the number of businesses struggling with the clarity of these measures is worrying.

“Worryingly, one in 10 business owners surveyed indicated that they are ‘not clear’ on the packages, of which more than half have had their revenue negatively impacted to date, and therefore we assume that they could likely benefit greatly from accessing these packages, if they had a great understanding of them,” Mr Johnson said.

“This implies that the government may need to do more to provide these businesses with access to advice on how the government’s economic packages can support them during this time.”

As expected, accountants topped the ladder in terms of their understanding, with 87 per cent reporting the packages are “clear”, but many told Momentum Intelligence that they are having a hard time passing this information on to their clients.

One accountant who took part in the survey said: “A lot of unclear information is out there, especially around JobKeeper subsidy. I understand the urgency but making the lives of accountants and bookkeepers very stressful.”

Another added: “As an accountant and tax agent, I cannot remember being this busy since the introduction of the GST. Clients are confused and need assistance.”

A third accountant also admitted to struggling with an overwhelming number of calls and emails.

“It is the hardest I have ever worked,” the accountant said.

Cash-flow boost most popular

Looking more closely at the utilisation of the support packages, cash-flow boost for employers emerged as the most popular, with over 1,600 business owners reporting they count on this measure.

This was followed closely by JobKeeper, with over 1,500 businesses looking into this support mechanism.

The popularity of the JobKeeper measure was also confirmed on Thursday by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who revealed that in under four days, 275,000 businesses have applied for the $1,500 wage subsidy. Interestingly, he said, sole traders make up around half of the total applications received.

My Business also learnt that the instant asset write-off is popular among business owners, while a large number or 853 still remain unsure as to what support package they will utilise.

This dynamic report will serve as a barometer of how businesses, and working Australians, are adapting to the changed working and social environment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will enable us to map attitudes, confidence and business activities as they evolve by market sectors, revealing which industries and professions are adapting most effectively to the “new normal”.

The first instalment of the survey report is expected to be released this week, with more articles to come.

Businesses give their verdict on government’s COVID-19 response
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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