The Queensland State Government brought down their budget this week and we have analysed the papers to bring you a couple of the highlights aligned with social enterprise activity.
More than 12,000 small-to-medium-sized Queensland businesses with payrolls under $10.4M will be eligible for payroll tax relief to support scaling operations to grow employment.
There has been $12.6M indicated to support small business grants and to bolster the Mentoring 4 Growth program. QSEC had successfully advocated for a social enterprise category on the application process to enable more access to social enterprise-friendly business mentors.
With the Small Business Commissioner now a permanent feature through this budget, QSEC will be actively seeking social enterprise initiatives and support mechanisms.
Women's Economic Security has been featured in this budget. Over $600M dedicated to further economic security, safety and wellbeing, and to improve work opportunities in regional Queensland. Women founders make up over 60% of founders within the QSEC membership, so we are particularly interested in seeing how this funding can support women's wellbeing in business.
There are a range of Regional Actions Plans which outline key budget initiatives and projects announced for each region. Regional social enterprises should pay particular attention to initiatives in their areas including social housing and homelessness services, infrastructure and rebuild/renewal opportunities and specific local initiatives such as the film studios in FNQ or the Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) project in Wide Bay. Many of these large-scale projects can have flow-on impacts for local social enterprise development, particularly through social procurement. QSEC is continuing to work with Social Traders to help QSEC members become certified and tender-ready to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
Social enterprises should be heartened to see the potential partnerships being supported through the place-based approaches for community and neighbourhood centres through $21M set aside for operations, and $4m innovation fund for community and social services to address place-based issues.
There is a $3M community innovation commitment to help young people from reoffending, which we would like to see bolstered. Some of our partners have noted the rising disengagement of young people is concerning, particularly in regional areas. Finding innovative and empowering ways to address this is a key area that social enterprises could to respond to.
Manufacturing Hub programs have been included in the budget modelling, alongside innovation grants. These are areas of constant interest to many of our social enterprises.
It was also good to see some solid support for mental health programs.
With just over half of the 2020 $8M Social Enterprise Jobs Fund expended through the Department of Employment and Small Business to date, QSEC is looking forward to evaluating the complete program of work in 2023. We will be consulting with members as the full program comes to fruition to prepare a submission for the next round of funds.
We have noted the incredible increase in regional activity across the state as we prepare for the Sector Development Grant programs and in the lead up the Social Enterprise World Forum in September 2022.
Overall, social enterprises should feel confident that the social impact support measures being undertaken at present is addressing many of the capacity issues the membership had identified through the co-designed 2020 submission. We are watching with concern at the growing economic pressures on communities and we know that there will be some additional impacts on social enterprises, fiscally and in the delivery of impact services. We also understand there is some way to go to fully support the growth and development of the sector, and we look forward to working with our partners to address these in due course.
FULL QLD BUDGET PAPERS