Retailers raise concerns over budget’s lack of support for small businesses

(Source: Bigstock)

Retailers have welcomed the federal budget’s provision to help address the cost-of-living crisis but raised concerns about support for small businesses.

The Australian Retailers Association lauded the government for including an energy bill relief of $300 and the extension of superannuation on government-funded parental leave in the 2024-25 federal budget.

The ARA also praised the government’s Stage Three Tax Cuts initiative, particularly reducing the 19 per cent tax rate to 16 per cent and the 32.5 per cent tax rate to 30 per cent while increasing income bracket thresholds.

Moreover, the government announced the continuation of the $20,000 instant asset write-off for small businesses with turnover under $10 million and the allocation of more than $30 million to support small businesses to be secure online while they adopt and harness digital opportunities.

The government will also invest $10.8 million to extend the NewAccess for Small Business Owners program to support the mental health and financial well-being of small business owners.

“We welcome measures that provide cost-of-living relief and boost confidence during these challenging times, which will have a flow-on impact on retail,” said ARA CEO Paul Zahra.

“However, whilst the cost-of-living measures, as well as the Stage Three Tax Cuts, will provide some relief, we recognise little will shift for Australian households until interest rates ease.”

Zahra said it is disappointing the government did not adopt the ARA’s petition to expand the small business tax rate of 25 per cent to include medium-sized businesses with revenue up to $100 million, from the current threshold of $50 million.

In addition, the government maintained the decision to reduce investment in training for some front-line retail roles despite retailers calling for continued investment in vocational training options.

Zahra further noted that the budget failed to include crucial opportunities such as the need to co-invest in large-scale recycling facilities to meet Australia’s circular economy targets within areas such as textile, food and plastics waste.

CPA Australia similarly expressed that the government could have done more to support small businesses.

“While the emphasis on relieving pressures on household finances was expected, a more business-centric budget would benefit all Australians as small businesses are significant contributors to the economy and job creation,” said CPA Australia CEO Chris Freeland.

CPA Australia cited its research, which states that Australian small businesses lag behind most Asia Pacific countries in the aspects of business innovation and the use of new technology.

“Government support for initiatives like cyber-security will help Australian small businesses catch up to their regional counterparts. The rebranded myGov will also bring greater security when interacting with the government. These are all steps in the right direction,” said Freeland.

“The range of targeted small business support in this budget makes sense, but a more comprehensive look at the sector is needed. We look forward to the proposed National Small Business Strategy that will help business, community and government work together to nurture and grow our economy.”

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