As it cripples countries’ health care and economic systems, the coronavirus has also unleashed an avalanche of information on the public, some reliable and some less so. Reliable information on the financial support available for those in Australia has been hard to come by as well, so here are five key tips to help those affected.
1. Contact your bank – but start online
Almost every major bank in Australia has pledged to support those financial affected by the coronavirus. Offers of loan repayment holidays, fee deferrals and the like have been issued across the industry. Now is not a great time to visit a branch or call bank hotlines, however, and the best place to start is online. The links below provide information on the services available to customers of the ten largest banks in Australia.
|Bendigo Bank||Macquarie Bank|
2. Make sure your mygov account is ready to go
For those who are unfamiliar, mygov is a centralised hub for federal government services (Centrelink, the ATO, Medicare etc). Even clients who are not imminently looking to claim benefits should make sure they have their mygov account set up and linked to the relevant services.
Already the government has flagged that it will be managing a mass of JobSeeker Payment (previously Newstart Allowance) applications online. The same goes for those who are considering applying to use the $10,000 per financial year withdrawal from super. This will be managed by the ATO through mygov.
Despite the widely-publicised failings of mygov under volume, this will remain the preferred mechanism for the federal government to register hundreds of thousands of people for support.
3. Get familiar with the support offered by your state or territory government
Each state and territory has responded to the coronavirus outbreak in different ways, both in terms of public health policy, and financial support. Many governments are offering payroll tax waivers – some of which require application and some of which do not. Others are automatically freezing payment and rate amounts. Almost all are offering industry-specific support.
Advisers and their clients need to watch their local media, and search their state or territory government websites to stay on top of the support on offer.
4. If you are self-isolating, ask for help
For those required to self-isolate, and who are experiencing financial hardship, government and private agencies may be able to help. A number of state governments are offering supplies packages or financial help to those required to self-isolate. Organisations such as the Australian Red Cross are also providing on the ground assistance in some locations.
Help may be available – but it may take some looking.
5. Talk to your child care provider
The federal government is allowing child care providers to still receive the Child Care Supplement (CCS) without obtaining a fee direct from the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s). The rule is designed to allow child care providers to still receive government funding without needing to take fees from parents, particularly in circumstances where centres need to shut down due to infection risks.
There is debate around whether child care centres will do this. If they are not taking fees directly from parents (as well as the CCS), most centres will lose a large portion of their revenue. That said, centres may take this approach as the alternative is to permanently lose enrolments and reduce the prospect of returning to normal revenue levels when social distancing measures are relaxed.
Ultimately, those receiving the CCS will need to talk to their child care provider to determine what course of action the provider is going to take.
Want to know more?
wealthdigital is knowIT digital’s online technical library and advice tool and has a hub on the financial support available to those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Click here to enquire about subscribing to wealthdigital.
The information contained in this publication is based on the understanding knowIT Group Pty Ltd ABN 27755976705 AFSL 333649 has of the relevant Australian legislation as at the date shown in this publication. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only and is intended for use by financial advisers and other licensed professionals only. It must not be handed to clients for their keeping nor can any copies of sections of this publication be given to clients. knowIT Group is not a registered tax agent under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. We recommend that your client be referred to their registered tax agent or legal adviser prior to implementing any recommendations that you may make based on the information contained in this publication.