Federal Budget 2012: Swan and O’Connor Maintain Faith with Small Business Advisory Services

Australia’s peak body for small business says a modest cut to funding for the Small Business Advisory Service (SBAS) in the 2012 Federal Budget should be seen as a diligent and measured decision when viewed in the context of global economic conditions and pressure to make savings on the road to surplus, says Business Enterprise Centres Australia (BECA) chairman Jack Hughes.

Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and Small Business Minister, Brendan O’Connor, have decided to extend the SBAS for another four years, just weeks before it was to end on June 30.

“Everyone who understands small business knows the SBAS is a lifeline, particularly to new businesses, in providing free advice to help small business people make sound decisions as they navigate the challenges of the marketplace and labour market,” said Mr Hughes.

“It is clear the Gillard Government has made a tough decision in the national interest, by ensuring BECs can continue nurturing the small business sector through the SBAS, such a crucial act for ensuring any new recoveries do not stall.

“Admittedly, it will be painful bearing a cut in funding from $40 million over four years down to $27.5 million, but to be frank, with all the pressures on the budget there was a real likelihood of getting zero,” said Mr Hughes.

“The remaining challenge now is ensuring the government can run the tender process quickly enough so that funding is available by July 1 to ensure continuity,” he warned.

“It would be counterproductive if a gap of weeks or months meant the existing network lost funding temporarily and suffered the loss of premises and experienced personnel who are so crucial to SBAS success.

“Business owners, families, clients and the Australian economy, all hope that when the AusIndustry Small Business Team says ‘the first round will be launched in the near future’, that enough time is left for funding to flow by July 1,” he said.

ENDS

CONTACT: Jack Hughes, national chairman, BEC Australia on 0408 837 032 or jack@becnt.com.au

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