Locked-down businesses distressed as COVID-19 JobSaver payment scheme cops scathing reviews

 In Home News Section

Business owners in Sydney are among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak and there are claims government financial support payments are not keeping up.

The COVID-19 JobSaver payment was designed to provide employers in the state with much-needed cash, to keep their businesses afloat.

But some businesses complain they’re finding the application process clunky and confusing, while others, who have made it through the application process, say they’re still anxiously waiting for much-needed cash.

Accounting firm PRS Partners director Nathan Durrant says applying for JobSaver is proving frustrating for accountants and their clients.

“We’re finding it challenging without clear guidance to be able to assess some of these clients to make sure that they meet the eligibility criteria,” Mr Durrant said.

He says the eligibility criteria for the support payment is confusing.

For example, it’s not clear whether the 30 per cent loss in turnover for businesses — from the 2020 financial year — is based on the cash or accrual accounting method.

In other words, is it based on the cash for services rendered, or just an invoice for services, which may be processed weeks from now?

“So, yes, there is a bit of frustration coming from the client level,” he said.

“I’ve been able to sign off on a couple [of clients’ JobSaver applications] — the straightforward ones, yes.

“Probably the industry having the most challenges is the construction industry.

“Most of them will provide services on an invoice basis.”

We asked New South Wales Treasury whether the drop in business turnover is based on cash received in bank accounts or the distribution of invoices.

It responded by saying that an eligible business should apply the same approach that it uses in its reporting of revenue to the Australian Taxation Office.

Nicholas Carr is another accountant dealing with confused clients.

He serves over 100 businesses in Greater Sydney, including a couple of employers in Western Sydney hotspots.

He says unlike JobKeeper, where businesses could lodge their applications through their accountant, this time around businesses must do it on their own.

“It’s just so laborious,” Mr Carr said.

“And I know of only one client that’s received money — no one else has [received] any money.

“I have over 150 [clients]— not that they’ve all applied, but I’m just saying maybe 10 or 20 have applied but no one has received any money yet, apart from one, that I know of.”

Chartered Accountants Australia represents accountants from across the country.

Head of Tax Michael Croker is scathing of the JobSaver scheme describing it as a ‘work-in-progress’ when it should be well and truly up and running by now.

“The main frustration is that there hasn’t been time,” Mr Croker told the ABC.

“When JobKeeper was introduced, that was also introduced at speed, but the [Australian Taxation Office] ATO — a much bigger and well-resourced organisation — gave the professional bodies, like Chartered Accountants, time.

“This time around, the JobKeeper national model is unavailable.

“Service NSW and NSW Treasury are working very hard to cobble something together which works effectively and gets cash out quickly, it’s just that in their haste there are some questions looming.

“We’ve put a lot of those questions to Service NSW.

“We’re hoping that they will be able to respond, they’ve undertaken to liaise with professional associations, so we’re looking forward to clarifying some of these issues as quickly as we can.”

PM put a number of questions to New South Wales Treasury.

We sought clarification on why businesses must lodge their JobSaver applications on their own, rather than through their accountants, and we asked why some payments, requested days ago, still have not been paid to businesses.

In a statement, a Treasury Spokesperson told the ABC: “All businesses, including financial services companies, can apply for JobSaver if they meet the eligibility criteria. Banks subject to the major bank levy are ineligible, consistent with JobKeeper rules.

“Businesses can lodge applications, or accountants can lodge applications on behalf of their clients.

“Approved applications for the JobSaver payment are paid into bank accounts within 5-10 business days.”

[zendesk covid form]

By business reporter David Taylor (Original ABC Article)