Ombudsman says Budget makes some progress on small business threats

BUDGET REACTION – The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman,  Bruce Billson said the 2024-25 Federal Budget did offer targeted measures to help small and family business deal with current pain points and headwinds.

“Small and family businesses facing punishing input costs that are squeezing margins will welcome the modest energy bill relief of $325,” Mr Billson said. “Every saving helps the small businesses who are doing it tough in our community. 

“Matching last year’s Budget, the money will be deducted from the power bills of one million eligible small businesses as part of a cost-of-living relief package.

“Small and family businesses will be relieved by the decision to extend the instant asset write-off for a further 12 months for businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million, allowing them to deduct $20,000 for eligible assets,” Mr Billson said.

“But we note the instant asset write-off measure announced in last year’s budget has still not been passed into law with just six weeks left of this financial year, creating some uncertainty for small businesses.

“This uncertainty has highlighted the benefits of greater predictability to support business planning and investment, reflected by small business groups calling for it to be made permanent.

“Particularly important is the $7.7 million over two years to extend the funding for mental health support through the New Access for Small Business Owners program created by Beyond Blue and $3.1 million over two years for the Small Business Debt Hotline delivered by Financial Counselling Australia,” Mr Billson said.

“We have seen a 20 percent increase in calls to our helplines over the past year from small businesses struggling to manage their debts. It is vitally important that small business owners take time to focus on their own mental and financial wellbeing and these free services are provided by people who understand the realities of running your own business and can offer practical help.

“The Budget also expands the scope of existing funding for ASBFEO to support small business in a dispute with the Tax Office to include unrepresented business dealing with a broader range of business disputes, including those involving franchising, and provides funding to review the adequacy and effectiveness of dispute resolution tools available to ASBFEO’s assistance service.

“There is also $20.5 million for the Fair Work Ombudsman to help small business employers comply with the increasingly complex workplace laws and $10 million to assist smaller employers with administering the revised paid parental leave scheme.

“We welcome $8.6 million a year for key regulators to enforce mandatory codes that oblige telecommunications, banking and digital platform service providers to do more to guard against the harm caused by scams that are hurting too many small businesses,” Mr Billson said.

“The Budget also includes additional funding to improve the uptake of e-invoicing, the effectiveness of the payment times reporting framework and implementation of franchise reforms.

“While income tax cuts will drive demand, the budget forecasts that overall economic growth will be weaker, which will concern small and family businesses who have been doing it tough.

“Sluggish growth combined with persistently poor productivity, tight labour markets, supply chain challenges, and the lagging effects of high inflation, plus 13 interest rate rises, are taking their toll on small and family businesses,” Mr Billson said.

“We need to shift the mindset from minimising headwinds to maximising the ‘wind in the sails’ of our hard-working small and family businesses.

“Some 43 percent of small businesses were not profitable in the last full tax year. Three-quarters of self-employed people, for whom their business is their full-time livelihood, take home less than average total weekly earnings.

“It is often said that small business is the engine room of the economy. We must ensure that small and family business can fire on all cylinders – not have a cylinder taken out.

“We need to get the risk and reward balance right, ensuring small business and entrepreneurship is a really attractive option for people, then create a supportive ecosystem to give enterprising people the best chance to be successful.”

The Government’s small business statement can be found at



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