Welcome to my first official newsletter update as Queensland Small Business Commissioner!

I am delighted to share the news that the Office of the Queensland Small Business Commissioner is now open and ready for business. Our top priority going forward will be helping small business recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild the economy.

Queensland relies on our small businesses to keep the economy moving. Hundreds of small businesses have shared their stories and experiences with me, and I know how tough things are right now.

With a team of nine, ten including me, I am now able to expand on the previous work I achieved as Queensland Small Business Champion, with greater capacity and authority for advocacy.

Many businesses have adapted and changed the way they operate during COVID-19. As Small Business Commissioner I will advocate to help find ways for Government to remove red tape that prevents small businesses from evolving and rebuilding in new ways. I see it as critical for the future economy that Government clear the way to enable innovative and new business models to flourish.

Of the other issues and priorities I hear from COVID-19 affected small businesses, cashflow continues to be most critical, specifically:
  • Paying rent
  • Access to grants/loans other financial support
  • Keeping up to date with the COVID-Safe return to business requirements
Paying rent

The Office of the Small Business Commissioner is now open for business and can help small business tenants and landlords whose trade has been affected by COVID-19 with assistance for resolving lease disputes, as well as provide a free mediation service under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020. New regulations have been introduced which give effect to the leasing principles of the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct – SME commercial leasing principles during COVID-19. I know how important it is for both parties to a lease agreement to maintain good commercial relationships. It is impossible for a small business to recover and rebuild if they have been evicted and have no premises to operate from. This mediation service will really help parties to resolve issues before they progress to the QCAT or the courts.

Accessing grants/loans and other support

The COVID-19 Jobs Support loan administered by QRIDA was oversubscribed as we all know. So far roughly 4,500 applicants have been approved, and almost $650 million has been distributed, with the remainder being processed.

You are perhaps aware of the recent Small Business Adaption grant of $10,000 for small businesses that employ at least one person other than themselves. We all expected this grant would be super popular, and of course it was. Applications were closed due to oversubscription in a matter of days. I know this has left many small businesses disappointed. I have conveyed your feedback to the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training and with the Minister for Small Business, Shannon Fentiman.

If further financial support is made available, I will share the news immediately via my social media channels (see below).

Keeping up to date with COVID-Safe return to business requirements

Wading through and navigating information and support has always been a challenge for small business. Keeping up to date and complying with COVID-Safe return to business requirements is something I know small businesses are finding hard. You might find this summary quite useful.

The Office of the Queensland Small Business Commissioner can be contacted on 1300 312 344 or visit www.business.qld.gov.au/qsbc. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Maree Adshead
Queensland Small Business Commissioner

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