1300 businesses a day rush to get JobKeeper payments
About 1300 Australian businesses a day are signing up to the Federal Government's JobKeeper program in a desperate bid to survive, new figures show.
New data from the Australian Taxation Office shows since the start of September another 49,031 businesses have joined the wage subsidy scheme - or 1290 each day.
Despite JobKeeper payments being wound back at the end of last month, experts say businesses are still heavily relying on these support payments to cope financially.
The total number of businesses on JobKeeper as of October 8 were:
• NSW 352,389, up 8401 since September 1.
• Victoria 310,128, up 31,862 since September 1.
• Queensland 192,238, up 4390 since September 1.
• WA 96,073, up 2054 since September 1.
• SA 60,679, up 1507 since September 1.
• Tasmania 16,796 up 385 since September 1.
• ACT, 12,273, up 313 since September 1.
• NT 539, up 119 since September 1.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the payments had been an "economic lifeline" for more than 3.5 million Australians.
"As we transition to the recovery phase JobKeeper will still be there for the businesses and employees who need it most," he said.
At the end of last month JobKeeper payments were wound back from a flat payment of $1500 per fortnight to $1200 for full-time employees.
For those working less than 20 hours per week payments dropped to $750 per fortnight.
This was calculated based on their working hours in either February or June.
The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia's chief executive officer Peter Strong said many smaller operators are fighting for survival and JobKeeper was keeping some of them afloat.
"People are in trouble relating to rent, turnover and lack of customers," he said.
"A lot of people are turning to JobKeeper because their cashflow, access to money and need to pay rent has become so much more that they have to get money from other sources to keep their staff on."
There are more than 2 million small businesses in Australia.
During the pandemic more than 900,000 loans including business loans have been deferred as many Australians grapple with significant hits to their income.
Mr Strong urged Australians to dig deep and support smaller operators to ensure they survive.
The Australian Retailers Association's chief executive officer Paul Zahra said there was a lot of hope for retailers nationally, outside of Victoria.
"Nationally the retail numbers give us reason to be hopeful, with the recent robust performance out of states like WA and Queensland showing particular promise," he said.
"And we are cautiously optimistic for Christmas sales nationally.
"But given Victoria accounts for 25 per cent of the entire retail picture, we can expect the lockdowns to continue to have a heavy impact on national figures and national operations."
JobKeeper is due to end in March next year.
Originally published as 1300 businesses a day rush to get JobKeeper payments