28 February 2022

In May 2020, the Government made loans available to small businesses via the Small Business Cashflow Scheme (SBCS). This low interest scheme allows businesses with up to fifty employees access to funds to help them through the uncertainty of Covid-19.

There have been a number of tweaks to the rules since they were first introduced, with the latest proposed change being that the two-year interest free period will remain so long as the borrower starts to make the required repayments from the beginning of the third year. This change is expected to be made before the end of March 2022.

In addition, a top-up loan has also been introduced. The top-up loan will allow those businesses that have already accessed the loan to draw down an additional $10,000 with a new repayment period of five years and the first two years being interest free.

To recap, the key features of the SBCS are:

  • The loan is for a five-year period with no compulsory repayments in the first two years
  • Applications are open until 31 December 2023
  • If the loan is repaid within a two-year period, it will be interest free
  • If the loan is not repaid within a two-year period, then the loan will be subject to interest at 3% pa on the remaining loan balance from the first day of the third year of the loan period
  • Principal and interest repayments will commence at the start of the third year
  • If the loan repayments go into default, interest may be charged for the first two years

For those businesses that applied for the loan early on, the two-year interest free period is nearly up. Businesses will therefore need to consider whether to repay the loan, or start making repayments, in order to take advantage of the interest free period.

In making this decision, businesses will need to consider:

  • Their current trading results and cashflow
  • Upcoming tax payments (including any deferred taxes if on repayment plans)
  • Future investment and working capital requirements
  • Other funding sources and the applicable interest rates

Information on the original SBCS is available here and information on the changes to the rules are available here.

If you would like to discuss your Small Business Cashflow loan or require assistance with your cashflow management, please contact your Nexia advisor. You can find our general contact details here.

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