Support for immediate cash flow needs for SMEs
The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme will provide support for these businesses. Under the Scheme, the Government will provide a guarantee of 50 per cent to SME lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months. SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans. The Government will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:
- Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower.
- The loans will be up to three years, with an initial six-month repayment holiday.
- The loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, meaning that borrowers will not have to provide an asset as security for the loan.
- Loans will be subject to lenders’ credit assessment processes with the expectation that lenders will look through the cycle to sensibly take into account the uncertainty of the current economic conditions.
- SME should only incur interest on the amount they draw down. If they do not draw down any funds from the facility, no interest will be charged, but they will retain the flexibility to draw down in the future should they need to.
- The Scheme will commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.
The Government is providing an exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This exemption is for six months, and applies to any credit for business purposes, including new credit, credit limit increases and credit variations and restructures. Responsible lending obligations do not currently apply to lending which is predominantly for a business purpose, but it can take time and effort for lenders to be satisfied that the money borrowed meets this test. By providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations, this reform will help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently.