Access to finance and faster payment times

For: 

Small businesses are the engine room of the economy and the Government is committed to ensuring they are able to access the finance they need to capitalise on new ideas, grow their business and employ more staff. Faster payment times improve cash flow, which is critical to the prosperity and health of small businesses and unlocks opportunities for investment and growth.

Better access to finance

Australian Business Securitisation Fund

Funding costs are relatively higher for small business, and small businesses find it difficult to obtain finance other than on a secured basis, typically against real estate. To overcome this, the new Australian Business Securitisation Fund (the Fund) will enhance access to finance for small business.

The Fund will invest up to $2 billion in the market for securitised small business loans, providing significant additional funding to smaller banks and non-bank lenders to on‑lend to small businesses on terms that are more competitive.

The Government has passed legislation to establish the Fund and credited an initial $250 million into the Fund on 1 July 2019. The Australian Office of Financial Management is administering the Fund, and has engaged with stakeholders ahead of commencing investments to ensure that the investment principles, which are used to shortlist participants for investment proposals, meet the overarching objective of increasing the availability of finance on terms that are more competitive to SMEs.

For more information visit the Treasury website or Australian Office of Fianncial Management website.

Business Growth Fund

The Government is encouraging the creation of a private sector-led and operated Business Growth Fund. This fund would provide longer-term equity funding to small businesses. Many small businesses find it difficult to attract passive equity investment, which enables them to grow without taking on additional debt or giving up control of their business.

The Government has committed to contribute $100 million to the Business Growth Fund, and is consulting with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and a number of financial institutions in regard to its establishment.

For more information visit the Treasury website.  

Helping cash flow

The Government recognises the importance of cash flow for small businesses, which is why the Government is setting an example by paying its bills on time.

In 2017–18, approximately 97 per cent of Australian Government bills under $1 million were paid within 30 days. From July 2019, the Government has committed to pay invoices for contract work up to $1 million within 20 days.

Through a new procurement policy being developed, the Government will require large businesses seeking to tender for government contracts to match the 20 day payment policy.

The Government is also developing a payment times reporting framework requiring large businesses with an annual turnover of over $100 million to publish information about how they pay small businesses. By providing transparency about large business payment performance, small firms will be able to make more informed decisions about their potential customers. Greater transparency will also create pressure for cultural change to improve the payment practices of large businesses. 

For more information visit the Paying small businesses on time page on this website.

e-Invoicing

The Government is implementing an electronic invoicing framework to save businesses time and money and improve payment times. e‑Invoicing can reduce processing times and errors leading to faster payment of invoices.

e-Invoicing is the automated direct exchange of invoices between the supplier’s and buyer’s software. e-Invoicing simplifies and automates the exchange and processing of invoices, setting up business operations for better and quicker payment terms. It is estimated to be 70 percent cheaper to automatically process an e-Invoice than traditional paper or PDF invoices that are processed manually (Deloitte Access Economics 2016).

The Government’s commitment to progressively adopt e-Invoicing will make it easier for small businesses to work with government and other industries. The Government is also working with the New Zealand Government to create a seamless trans-Tasman business environment. This approach recognises the future of the digital economy, the digital transformation of both countries and provides opportunities for growth and jobs.

For more information visit the Australian Taxation Office website.