Business Hardship Package

The Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan's Business Hardship Package is an initiative to help Northern Territory (NT) businesses that have experienced significant hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Support is available to Territory businesses with a turnover less than $50 million who can demonstrate a reduction of turnover of 30% or more due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Once approved for the hardship register, businesses will receive a business hardship certificate that they can use to access relevant concessions such as payroll tax, utilities, rents and rates being offered as part of the Business Hardship Package.

The registration will enable businesses to apply for:

  • waiving or deferring payment of payroll tax
  • reducing utilities bills
  • providing incentives for commercial landlords to reduce rents
  • reducing or deferring rates
  • other relief which may be offered from time-to-time agreed to by the responsible minister.

The Business Hardship Package is available for a period of up to six months form 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

The package is designed to help reduce costs for local businesses and keep them open and operating now, as well as in the rebound and recovery phase once the coronavirus (COVID -19) crisis is over and restrictions start to lift.

The Department of Trade, Business and Innovation (DTBI) will assess applications for eligible businesses to be placed on a central business hardship register. This is to ensure there is a consistent assessment for hardship.

The Business Hardship Package is available to eligible businesses in addition to other support including the Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan, the Tourism Resilience Package and other NT Government and Australian Government initiatives.

Who can apply

You can apply if you are a business that meets the following criteria:

  • a legal entity and holds a valid Australian business number (ABN) as at 23 March 2020, and
  • a Territory enterprise, and
  • not a government agency, government owned body, statutory corporation, or local government, and
  • has an annual turnover of no more than $50 million, and
  • has experienced hardship.

Hardship means your business has suffered a reduction in turnover of 30% or more due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Note: as a commercial landlord, if you meet the criteria you will also be eligible for support if you provide evidence you have negotiated in good faith with your tenants.

What support is available

Businesses listed on the business hardship register will receive a certificate to confirm hardship.

Your business will then be assessed by the relevant authority (for example, Department of Treasury and Finance, local government council or utilities provider) to determine the relevant concessions.

Payroll tax concessions

Once hardship has been confirmed, and your business has been placed on the business hardship register, you can provide the Territory Revenue Office with the hardship certificate issued by the DTBI. The Territory Revenue Office will then make contact to confirm your assessment for payroll tax relief.

Payroll tax relief will be assessed as per the following criteria:

  • payroll tax waiver for Territory employers with Australian wages for 2019-20 below $7.5 million where turnover has been reduced by at least 30%, or
  • payroll tax deferral for Territory employers with Australian wages for 2019-20 above $7.5 million where turnover has been reduced by at least 50%.

For further information on payroll tax relief, and the assessment process, go to the Department of Treasury and Finance website.

Council rates concessions

Once hardship has been confirmed and your business has been placed on the business hardship register, you can provide your local government council with the hardship certificate issued by DTBI. This will confirm your entry on the business hardship register.

If you use your premises for your business and you pay rates, you may be able to access the following rate concessions from your local council:

  • a three-month rate waiver, and
  • a further three-month deferral on paying rates for 2020-21 (that is, deferred to 1 January 2021).

If you are a landlord who pays rates, and are not an eligible business, you may be able to access rate concessions if you negotiate in good faith to provide rent relief to your tenant who is an eligible business.

The availability of rate concessions is subject to individual council policy and may differ in different local council areas.

For further information contact your relevant local council.

Utilities concessions

Once hardship has been confirmed and your business has been placed on the business hardship register, you can provide your utilities provider with the hardship certificate issued by DTBI. This will confirm your entry on the business hardship register and the date from which your hardship entitlements commence (that is, either 1 April 2020 or 1 July 2020).

If you are a prescribed customer under section 13A(d) of the Electricity Reform (Administration) Regulations 2000, you may be entitled to an electricity tariff that is no more than 50% of the usual commercial rate.

Similarly, your business will be entitled to a water supply and sewerage services tariff that is no more than 50% of the usual commercial rate.

Rent concessions

When a commercial tenant demonstrates economic hardship and requests rent relief, you, as a commercial landlord, will be expected to negotiate relief in good faith.

If you do this you will also be eligible to receive payroll tax and utility bills relief.

In addition, the NT Government expects commercial tenants to benefit from rates relief provided by local councils.

The government will also waive the property activation levy for relevant landlords whose property becomes vacant due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. However, if you do not negotiate in good faith with your tenants, you will not be eligible for this relief.

For further information on the rental changes due to coronavirus (COVID-19), go to the Consumer Affairs website.

How to apply

If your business operates out of multiple locations, you must complete a separate application for each location.

This will allow us to verify your local government council area and utilities provider account number / details for each location.

To apply to be on the business hardship register, follow these steps:

Step 1. You must read, understand and agree to the package's terms and conditions before you apply.

Step 2. Apply online at the Smartygrants website.

How applications are assessed

The following criteria will be used to assess your application to the register:

  • your business is eligible for the Australian Government’s JobKeeper initiative, and evidence of eligibility is able to be provided, or
  • your business has been deemed eligible for the Small Business Survival Fund, or
  • your business is able to show a reduction in turnover of more than 30%, or
  • if your business is a commercial landlord, you are able to show a reduction in turnover of more than 30% and that it has negotiated in good faith with all of your tenants for rent relief in line with the mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies, agreed to by National Cabinet.

Read the National Cabinet mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies on the Prime Minister of Australia's website.

Supporting documents can be in the form of audited financial statements, internal accounting system reports, reports prepared by your bookkeeper / accountant, or BAS statements.

If your business can confirm hardship between 1 April 2020 and 30 June 2020 you will be placed on the business hardship register and can apply for the Business Hardship Package for the period 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

If your business can confirm hardship between 1 July 2020 and 30 September 2020 you will be placed on the business hardship register and can apply for the Business Hardship Package for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020.

Contact

For more information, contact the Business Recovery team.