Small Business Council of Australia

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Concerns over missing funding for federal small business commissioner

6:34AM | Thursday, 6 June

The shadow minister for small business, Bruce Billson, has raised concern over the future of the small business commissioner role after a department official said the initiative was “not an ongoing program” during Senate Estimates this week.   Sue Weston, an official for the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, said there was no funding allocated for the role after 2015/16 as the current funding was appropriate for the set life of the program.   She also described the role as “not an ongoing program”, during questioning by Liberal Senator Scott Ryan.   Billson told StartupSmart he was concerned and surprised at the confirmation the small business commissioner role wasn’t an ongoing one.   “Much has been made by Labor of this one measure, and now it’s got an end date on it as well. It further adds to the view that this government is just not interested in small business,” says Billson.   Billson has previously raised concerns over the “revolving door” of Labor small business ministers and the commissioner’s lack of legislative power.   “The issues and challenges facing small business are very significant and diverse. You need a genuine commitment to the sector, ongoing engagement and to do the work that’s needed to identify policies that will work,” says Billson.   The current commissioner, Mark Brennan, began his role in January 2013. He previously served as the Victorian small business commissioner for seven years.   A spokesperson for Small Business Minister Gary Gray told StartupSmart the commissioner position was always set to be reviewed two years after it began.   “Mr Mark Brennan commenced work just five months ago. It is important that Mr Brennan is given time to shape the role and ensure that Commonwealth agencies remain focused on small business,” the spokesman says in an email.   Peter Strong, executive director of the Small Business Council of Australia, says the commissioner role will be reviewed in 2015/16 and new funding would be allocated if the findings were in favour of continuing the role.   “It would be very difficult to imagine it wouldn’t be a positive review that the commissioner should have more powers and better defined,” Strong told StartupSmart.   Strong added if the commissioner was to achieve goals, he would need legislative power to do so.   The small business commissioner role was announced in March last year. It was launched to advocate for small business in government decision making and to work across industry and other groups to encourage a coordinated approach to challenges small business owners face.

Small business satisfaction with banks falls again: Survey

5:31AM | Wednesday, 29 May

Small businesses are already disappointed with the major banks, but newly released survey results show the relationship between the big four and SMEs has soured even further.   The release of Roy Morgan data regarding bank satisfaction comes as the Small Business Council of Australia (COSBOA) hosts a roundtable in Canberra today, in order to discuss the current problems facing small business access to finance.   Roy Morgan data released yesterday shows satisfaction among the big four's business customers in April was just 63.7%, down from 64%, and still well below the satisfaction level of personal customers, which sat at 78.9% in April.   The figures show the satisfaction gap between small businesses and banks has continued to widen, with personal customer satisfaction improving by 2.4 percentage points compared to business satisfaction, which has fallen by 0.4 percentage points.   Westpac leads the survey, followed by the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and ANZ. The Commonwealth Bank moved up three percentage points over the past year – the only one of the big four to improve – and ANZ has fallen by 4.4 points.   The satisfaction differs between different-sized businesses. The micro segment, with turnover less than $1 million a year, was the least satisfied segment at 63.3%, but the segment covering businesses with over $55 million in turnover didn't record any significant improvement, at just 67.6%.   Norman Morris, communications director at Roy Morgan, said in a statement the banks are continuing to struggle.   "It is obvious that a poor rating among business customers will impact on personal customer ratings yet this is often not clearly understood. In the case of the approximately two million small businesses; the owners' personal and business interests are closely interlinked, as is their banking."   Part of the dissatisfaction comes due to interest rate levels. Although the banks have passed on the most recent rate cut to business products, traditionally business loans attract higher interest rates and banks are loathe to pass on any cut in the official rate.   Peter Strong, executive director of COSBOA, told SmartCompany this morning the findings are apt given today's conference about small business access to finance.   "I think this reflects just a drop in confidence in general," he says.   "The other disappointment we're seeing is the difference between interest rates for consumers and businesses. They've come back closer, but why is there even a difference?"   Most recently the big four passed on interest rate cuts to business customers, although ANZ was the only bank not to extend the same rate cut to business customers as individual mortgage holders.   Such problems are what Strong hope to address today at the roundtable with attendees including Steven Munchenberg, the chief executive of the Australian Banking Association, along with COSBOA board members and a range of experts.   Other topics of discussion include identifying the specific types of SMEs which want to grow, and how many of them need access to credit.   "We just want more information," Strong says.   Earlier this year the small business community was disappointed by the news the federal government would back down on legislation which would regulate small business credit.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Carbon tax price details delayed until ‘mid-year’

4:19AM | Thursday, 14 April

Small businesses groups will continue to negotiate with the government over the impact of the carbon tax after it was revealed that the pricing model won’t be finalised until mid-year.

Small businesses worried hung Parliament will add to uncertainty

12:05AM | Monday, 6 December

A new survey reveals small businesses are concerned about the impact of political instability as a result of the hung Parliament, with fears it could add to the economic uncertainty currently facing many companies.

Employers warned of public holiday chaos

12:26PM | Sunday, 5 December

The Australian Industry Group is urging employers to act now to avoid facing public holiday chaos over the Christmas period.

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