JobKeeper fears

Adelaide Hills Chauffeur and Limo Service owner Damien Argiropoulos, left, and chief executive Ray Sawtell have relied on JobKeeper to compensate for a 75% drop in the business’ income since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and would like to see the support continue until June.

The looming end to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program on March 28 will put many businesses under more financial pressure, right on the anniversary of the date they began to truly struggle with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The JobKeeper program has not only supported businesses in the travel and tourism industries – which were hard hit by border closures – but also within the hospitality, entertainment and cinema industries which have been restricted by social distancing and caps on patron numbers.
Both the State and Federal governments have done well to provide a range of initiatives to keep the economy as healthy as possible during the pandemic, with programs such as free childcare, HomeBuilder and infrastructure funding targeting specific industries.
Tax relief and grants of thousands of dollars have also been provided to eligible businesses.
However, it is important that the safety net of successful initiatives which has supported so many businesses over the past 12 months is not unravelled when JobKeeper ends.
Ending the support program too early could risk all the work done to keep businesses operating up to this point, putting thousands of Australians out of work … again.
There is not a single solution that can keep every business financially stable in the pandemic environment, which causes overnight shutdowns and ever-changing restrictions.
But JobKeeper’s major advantage over industry-targeted support is that struggling businesses are less likely to fall through the gaps, no matter how niche the clientele or the product.
The Federal Government cannot support businesses forever.
But as the program ends, it is vital that the Government continues to consult with affected industries about how they can be supported over the coming months.
Otherwise we risk seeing small businesses – which are the lifeblood of our communities – go under due to no fault of their own.