Speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, renewed her plea to the government to establish a voucher program of up to $5,000 to enable small-business owners to access financial planning advice and save their livelihoods.
“A tailored financial plan is critical for small businesses to survive, grow and employ,” Ms Carnell stressed.
“They know [small-business owners] when JobKeeper and other things go, they’re going to need a plan and they need to do that now.”
She explained that small-business owners are experiencing significant financial distress, and while they need the help of an adviser, many may not be able to afford one.
“Small businesses have the weight of the world on their shoulders right now and many have real problems with their mental health. They have their house riding on it,” Ms Carnell added.
This is not the first time the small business ombudsman has called upon the government to implement a voucher scheme. Earlier this month, while presenting the findings of the ASBFEO’s Insolvency Practices Inquiry, Ms Carnell said the system needs to change dramatically so that small-business owners are given the chance to make important decisions about the future of their business.
“We know the sooner a small business seeks help, the more likely it is they can achieve a restructure or turnaround,” Ms Carnell said at the time.
“But cash-flow issues, compounded by falling revenue, may mean those small business can’t afford the professional financial advice they need. The ramifications of this could be devastating, both for the business and its owner and family, down the line.”
Also on Wednesday, Ms Carnell asked business owners to look after their mental health, noting that many are suffering as a result of the unprecedented challenges thrust their way by the coronavirus crisis.
"To any small business owner who is listening today, I urge you to visit the My Business Health web portal on our ASBFEO website. It has practical tips around running your business, but we’ve also worked closely with leading mental health organisations like Beyond Blue and there are several dedicated resources you can access for free as well.
"Look after your mental health," she pleaded.