Our national and state economies are reeling from COVID-19 impacts. With every $1 spent with a social enterprise adding $3 of value in the local economy, they're well placed to play a vital part in providing local economic solutions. Our network of impact-focussed businesses ensure that we don't just "build back better" but we exemplify how society can go beyond business as usual to truly make a difference to our local communities.
As news of the federal budget breaks, QSEC members have been digesting the initiatives and working through the headlines.
The budget sadly fails to address some of the inequities revealed through the COVID-19 crisis, from a lack of depth in addressing heath and wellness, gender, race and the arts and culture and the disability sector. It also poses some significant challenges in the education and training sectors.
The jobs focus of this budget has prioritised a "built economy" approach, with many incentives centred on infrastructure and extractive industries. This leaves a dire lack of support for diverse jobs creation in the social, health, environment, disabilities and cultural services. The proposed jobs initiatives also contribute to support an increase in the casualisation of the workforce, which may leave many at-risk youth and marginalised job seekers, and in particular those over 35 year of age, with insufficient liveable wage conditions. This may present additional challenges for some social enterprises, particularly for those who employ disadvantaged workers forces with the aim of providing meaningful employment opportunities.
Many of the business incentives on offer will be delivered through tax rebates or will rely on high-turnover, profitable business conditions to enable expansion of infrastructure. This may not be relevant for many social enterprises during this uncertain economic time. QSEC will be talking with members and representatives in the sector and within Government to examine the best way for social enterprises to maximise these opportunities where possible. We'll report back on that soon.
However, there are specific highlights which may represent some interest for members, particularly in regional areas. These incentives are likely to be implemented through tax reforms, state and local government projects, grants and tenders. QSEC will update members as we learn more about how these initiatives will be rolled out.
2020/2021 Federal Budget Highlights
Tax-based cash flow benefits including temporary full expensing of depreciation with no limit on assets, and temporary offset of tax losses against previous profits and paid tax. From 7 October 2020, Job Maker Hiring Credits for new jobs created for 16-35 yr old employees (previously on JobSeeker or Youth Allowance) for up to $200* per week. 50% wage subsidies for new apprentices and trainees.
(*age dependant and for eligible employers)
$1.3B to improve collaborations between business and investors to research and develop commercial market-ready products for manufacturing in Australia. $107.2M to help map supply chains and target funding to provide resilience to existing or identified gaps. Additionally a further $100M will be allocated to progress the modernisation of innovative technologies for manufacturers and Industry Growth Centres.
Indigenous initiatives: $150M over three years for the Indigenous Home Ownership Program. Some training and development initiatives will be supported through a single supplier.
Regional recovery: An increase of $550M support for regional Australia (on top of the $1B COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund) to be allocated to Regional Tourism Recovery Packages, Building Better Regions grants and tourism related infrastructure. Additional funds will be allocated for Regional Recovery Partnerships, health training and leadership programs, as well as a research centres programs.
Circular economies: $249.6M over four years for recycling and waste reduction infrastructure within Australia, which includes a $190M Fund to leverage a further $600M investment and implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan and improved research/information data flows.
Affordable housing: Funding of $2.5 billion has been indicated to support state affordable housing services, including National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), HomeBuilder and other National Partnership payments.
Social Impact Investment: An allocation of $2.7M has been indicated (with no information of state by state breakdown available as yet) for state governments to trial social impact investments assisting vulnerable priority groups and $2.7M for youth at-risk of homelessness over four years.
The full budget documents can be viewed here.