Help at hand in times of COVID hardship

No matter what state you live in, the unfortunate reality is that all Australians have been impacted by the global pandemic to one degree or another. And that’s precisely why it’s so important to explore the different kinds of support options that may be available to you or your business.

There will be plenty of time to look back on the political back and forths and a post-mortem of how decisions have been made which have impacted us all at various times, but that’s not the practical mindset right now.

And in the absence of JobKeeper support or the original JobSeeker payment, what payments or grants are available to those who need help now?

Below we examine the different types of help at hand:

FOR INDIVIDUALS:

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment is a lump sum aimed at assisting those unable to earn income due to a COVID-19 state public health order. The payment is available for eligible New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and Victoria residents.

Your location and unique circumstances will determine how much support is on offer for those affected by lockdowns, hotspot locations or movement restrictions.

LOAN DEFERRALS:

This option may be suitable for both home and business loans. 

  • Small businesses with loans in good standing are being supported by lenders with repayment deferrals of up to three months.
  • For Home loan holders, lenders can assist with a range of measures, including loan deferrals on a month-by-month basis.

More than 14,500 home loans and more than 600 business loans have been deferred since July 8, 2021. Former Queensland Premier and current CEO of the Australian Banking Association (ABA) Anna Bligh noted that these options are available for those impacted by the current or previous lockdowns “irrespective of geography or industry”.

BUSINESS GRANTS AND PAYMENTS:

Each state or territory offers different levels of assistance with grants and schemes available to businesses and individuals. 

As the situation is constantly evolving, it’s worth double-checking to see if your business is eligible for any other grants or payments not listed below.

  • NSW: The COVID-19 micro-business grant is a fortnightly tax-free grant of $1,500 to help impacted micro-businesses and not-for-profits across NSW that have a turnover between $30,000 and $75,000. Payments will change to $750 a fortnight after NSW reaches 80% double vaccination (taking effect from 30 October 2021). Applies from 26 June or from the fortnight that businesses first experienced a decline in turnover after 26 June. Payments will end on 30 November 2021.
  • Victoria: Several grants in Victoria for employing and non-employing businesses are available. 
  • Queensland: Various support schemes exists for small, medium and large businesses affected by lockdowns. Grants of $1,000 are also available for non-employing sole traders. Application deadline: November 16.
  • ACT: COVID-19 Business Support Grants will provide up to $10,000 for employing businesses and up to $4,000 for non-employing businesses that experienced a turnover decline of 30 per cent or more as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown health restrictions. More details are provided here.

FOR TENANTS AND LANDLORDS:

  • NSW: Landlords who reduce rent for tenants severely impacted by COVID-19 will be able to access up to $3,000 per tenancy agreement. To be eligible, the tenant’s take-home weekly income must have dropped by more than 25 per cent and the tenant is required to pay at least 25 per cent of the rent payable.
  • VICTORIA: The Victorian Government has made it a requirement for commercial landlords to provide rent relief that matches their tenants’ fall in turnover in response to COVID-19, where the tenant is eligible for commercial tenancy relief assistance.

HELP IS AT HAND:

It’s good to know that there are refinance or restructure options that you can examine with the aim of reducing your business or home loan repayments each month (without hitting pause), including:

  • Seeking a better rate or moving to a lender that can provide that option
  • Extending the length of the loan
  • Switching to interest-only payments for a period of time
  • Debt consolidation

Get in touch today! We’re ready, willing and able to help guide you through the process and changing times.

Are they really OK? Here’s how to check in with them today

Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are you know someone who is struggling right now.

They might not have seen their family for months, their business could be operating under the strains of COVID-19, or they might be having trouble meeting their mortgage repayments.

And here’s the thing: we’re not all blessed with the natural conversation instincts and EQ of someone like Andrew Denton.

So sometimes we put off tough conversations for fear of making the situation worse.

But rather than wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis before offering them support, we wanted to mark R U OK? Day by sharing the charity’s tips for starting the conversation.

 

1. Pick your moment

Meaningful moments are more likely to take place when we’re spending quality time together.

While this can be difficult to do during a lockdown, below is an example of some everyday situations that may be a good time to ask someone if they’re ok:

– while exercising together
– when spending time together socially or during an activity
– during breaks from work or study
– when connecting or doing activities together online
– while sharing a meal
– while travelling together – even a short trip can be a good time to talk.

 

2. How to ask ‘R U OK?’

Start the conversation at a time and in a place where you’ll both be comfortable.

Be relaxed and friendly in your approach. And think about how you can ease into the conversation.

If they don’t want to talk, let them know you’ll be there for them when they’re ready, or ask if there’s someone else they’d be more comfortable chatting to.

Examples of how to check in with them include:

– I haven’t seen much of you lately, is everything going ok?
– So, how are you travelling these days?
– You’ve been a bit tired, how are things going?

 

3. Listen with an open mind

Once they start to open up to you, be prepared to listen. Don’t try to solve their problems right away and have an open mind.

Some other tips include:

– don’t rush them or interrupt. Let them speak in their own time
– encourage them to explain
– show you’ve listened by repeating back what you have heard and asking if you have understood them correctly.

 

4. How to encourage action

You don’t have to have the answers or be able to offer professional advice but you can help them consider the next steps they can take to manage their situation.

You can get the ball rolling by asking them:

– Where do you think we can go from here?
– What do you need from me? How can I help?
– Have you thought about going to see your GP?

 

5. Check-in again soon after

Be sure to follow up in a few days to see how they’re doing.

During the conversation, ask them to suggest a time that’s good for them, or simply ask: “Do you mind if I drop by again soon to see how you’re travelling?”

When you check in, ask how they are feeling and if anything has helped since the last time you spoke. If they have not taken any steps yet, be patient and ask if they would like to find some options together.

Understand that it can take time for people to seek help. Stick with them. Your genuine support will mean a lot to them.

 

Feel free to reach out to us, too

We like to think of ourselves as more than just your broker who you turn to when you need a loan – but also a friend you can turn to in times of need.

So if you’re not feeling OK today, tomorrow, or next month, feel free to give us a call whenever you need. We’re always here to listen and help in any way we can.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.