Government’s Jobkeeper changes welcome help for some charities but big job losses still faced by others, revenue test needs change

The Australian Council of Social Service says the Government’s decision to reduce restrictions on charities accessing the JobKeeper payment will help some charities in the community sector and is welcome but still leaves too many without adequate support and job losses still at stake.

As announced by the Treasurer on Sunday night, charities registered with the Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission will be eligible for JobKeeper Payment if they have a turnover decline of 15% or more. This will apply to all registered charities, including those with a turnover of more than $1 billion. Initially, the payment was only available to charities with turnover less than $1 billion and with a drop in revenue of at least 30 per cent.

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

“This announcement will provide relief for some across the sector and is welcome. However, it still leaves many community sector organisations ineligible for the support, and  facing large job and service losses as a result. 

“Community sector organisations are under contractual obligations to use funding from various sources, such as government and philanthropic grants, for specific programs. Revenue is not able to be shifted across areas of an organisation as easily as it is in businesses, and there is no profit margin. As a result, a reduction of less than 15% in revenue can still mean serious consequences, including job losses, and less services for people in need. 

“The solution to address this outstanding issue is to specify how revenue is assessed. The revenue test in the legislation needs to exclude tied funds, under government contracts, that cannot be used for other purposes. 

“All community sector charities must be able continue their important work, helping those in need, by keeping their workers employed, at a time when they are needed most.

“Across the sector, charities, big and small, are working hard to support those most at risk in this health and economic crisis. The community sector is crucial at all times, but especially in a crisis. The sector provides vital frontline services, such as food relief, emergency accommodation, domestic violence services, mental health services and financial counselling.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Government as we work through the challenges faced. We will continue to collaborate to deliver the outcome we all want – to protect against job losses and service cuts, so that the community sector can play its important role of ensuring nobody is left behind in the response and recovery to this health and economic crisis,” Dr Goldie said.