The Australian Government has announced that it will be loosening criteria for its SME Business Recovery Loans Scheme. The newly introduced changes mean that business with a turnover of up to $250 million will now have access to it.

Prior to the new changes, the funding was only available to businesses who had received JobKeeper in the March quarter of 2021, or flood-affected businesses. Now businesses who have a turnover of less than $250 million will be able to access loans of up to $5 million over a term of up to 10 years to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

The loans are eligible to be used for a range of business purposes or to refinance debt and will become available through participating lenders until 31st December. Other features include:

• Government guarantee for 80% of the loan amount.
• Lenders can offer borrowers a repayment holiday of up to 24 months.
• Loans can be either unsecured or secured (excluding residential property).

The changes have been applauded by bank lenders, who also showed their support for smaller businesses suffering under current restrictions.

“Many small businesses across Australia are continuing to do it tough due to the impact of extended lockdowns and border closures. The SME Recovery Loans are a good option for businesses who need additional capital at this time and expanding the eligibility criteria is a positive step. As Australia’s largest business bank, we remain ready to support our customers that need help. We have thousands of bankers around the country ready to help our customers get through this,” said NAB Group executive, business and private bank, Andrew Irvine in a statement.

Business Recovery Loans: Australians In Lockdown Have Had Bills Increased By $233

Over 15 million Australians are living in strict lockdown conditions as of 19th August. Although there are many people who are saving money as a result of staying at home, the cost of living for many is surprisingly only getting more expensive.

Recently published research has demonstrated that 27 percent of Australian households have seen their quarterly energy bills increase since lockdown began, with the average quarterly energy bill now $344.

One would assume that it would be easier for Australians to save money during lockdown as they are not driving very often and aren’t going out to dinner. However, as a result of more people spending prolonged amounts of time inside, the costs associated with running heaters and air conditioners for an average four hours per day is expected to cost households at least another $233 over winter on top of their quarterly bill.

For Australians who are currently in lockdown and wanting to reduce the amount of money you spend, it would be a good idea to keep a close eye on how much money you are spending online. Make sure you don’t have your lights and heaters on all day if it is unnecessary. It is also important to keep in mind that streaming content on platforms such as Netflix can also drive up your internet bill if you currently don’t have an unlimited plan.

The research also discovered that 15 percent of Australians are spending more money on food delivery during lockdown. Younger Australians and those in NSW the most likely to head online for food delivery. However, a similar proportion say they’re spending less on food delivery.

A slightly smaller proportion (13 percent) admit that their internet bill has gone up compared to two months ago, while 7 percent have seen their bills reduce.

As expected NSW residents are the most likely to have had their internet bills increase.

26 percent of Australians have also seen their spending on online shopping (excluding food delivery) increase, with more than a third of Millennials and Gen Z Australians increasing their online spending.