Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered the 2021-2022 Federal Budget earlier this week, and there is some good news for the hospitality sector.

Small brewers and distillers, businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion, international student visa holders and apprentices are considered some of the ‘winners’.

Restaurant and Catering Australia has largely welcomed the measures, with CEO Wes Lambert saying the budget: “would help address critical problems affecting the recovery of the … foodservice sector including staff shortages, stimulating demand, providing a pathway to international border re-opening and ensuring small businesses get the assistance and support they need to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic”.

With international borders remaining closed until 2022, operators are struggling to find skilled workers.

In response, the government will temporarily lift the 40-hour fortnightly limit of work for student visa holders working in hospitality and tourism.

Businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion will receive a 12-month extension to write off the complete value of assets such as equipment purchased between the last budget and 30 June 2023.

Losses suffered up to June 2023 can also be offset against previous profits made going back to the 2018-2019 financial year.

The Budget has also seen the expansion of JobTrainer and the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) subsidy.

The BAC will encompass 170,000 new apprentices, with businesses receiving a wage subsidy for employing new apprentices.

JobTrainer will fund 163,000 training places, which Lambert says will “help fill the crippling staff shortage that exist across the hospitality sector today”.

Small brewers and distillers will see $255 million in tax relief delivered.

Eligible businesses will be given back up to $350,000 worth of taxes from 1 July, a significant increase from the current rate, which is $100,000.

However, large beverage companies are not eligible.

Eligible small businesses will also be able to access a piece of the following pies; $10 million to navigate award compliance through technology; $12.7 million to improve digital capability and $900,000 to address mental health and wellbeing.

$1.5 million in funding has been allocated to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and an independent umpire has been established to assist small businesses to pause debt-recovery actions from the ATO until cases are decided.

“The 2021-22 Budget doesn’t just get our sector a seat in the dining room, it puts us at the head of the recovery table,” says Lambert.

Image credit: Elesa Kurtz