Travel Agents

JobKeeper ends: Where do we go from here?

The federal government’s JobKeeper payment scheme has ended, a year after the critical payment program began amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After gradually being scaled down from an original payment of $1,500 per employee per fortnight for eligible businesses, to $1,000 or $650 per fortnight, JobKeeper ended on Sunday.

With its end, close to a million Australians have lost access to the program and as many as 150,000 people nationally could lose their jobs as a result, according to the federal Treasury.

The increase is expected to put a dent on an improved jobless rate, which dropped to 5.8 per cent in February. The Reserve Bank of Australia believes the unemployment rate will continue to fall across the course of 2021 and into following years.

However, the end of the JobKeeper scheme will likely see to a temporary pause in the reduction to the jobless rate, the RBA said. This comes ahead of a reduction to JobSeeker, with the $150 coronavirus supplement expiring at the end of March, despite a permanent $50 fortnightly increase to payments.

Travel agents, the hardest professionals hit by the coronavirus pandemic, are likely to be among those that lose their jobs (if they haven’t already) with the end of JobKeeper, with accounts in The Australian Financial Review and The Australian illustrating the plight of agencies.

The National Party has pushed for a $400 fortnightly supplement to be added to the $620.80 JobSeeker payment, aimed at travel agency staff who lose their jobs after the JobKeeper deadline.

But while JobKeeper has ended, recently announced support for travel agents specifically continues.

An additional round of support in the form of $130 million has been announced as part of Austrade’s extended funding program (for a further three months beyond 13 March), to help give eligible agents breathing space to expedite customer refunds and follow up travel credits.

Payments under round two of Austrade’s program will automatically apply to businesses successful under round one who reported GST turnover on the G1 line of their business activity statement.

No additional payments under round two will be made to those who it is determined were paid under total transaction value in round one.

The number of turnover tiers used to calculate payments has been reduced from 41 to seven, with eligible businesses to receive between $5,000 up to $100,000 per eligible application.

Businesses with sales over $500,000 and less than $20 million seeking a round-two payment will be subject to an audit. Travel Weekly understands this change will further ensure only those who were paid on the basis of GST turnover in round one are eligible for round two.

The government previously announced it would provide $128 million for a one-off targeted grant program to support travel agents, up until 13 March 2021.

The payments were scaled, with a minimum of $1,500 for a business with a turnover of $50,000, and a maximum of $100,000 for a business with a turnover of up to $20 million.

 

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