Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) today hailed the Federal Government’s 2021-22 Budget as a budget that put restaurants, cafés & caterers at the head of the recovery table.

R&CA CEO Wes Lambert said that measures announced today as part of the 2021-22 Budget would help address critical problems affecting the recovery of the accommodation and food service 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.

“The accommodation and food services sector continues to be the worst affected sector of our economy jobs-wise, with ABS data showing that our workforce is 11.2% smaller today than it was in March 2020”, Mr Lambert said.

“This is despite more jobs ads being available today than ever before and predictions showing double digit employment growth in our sector over the next five years.” 

“Put simply, there are tens of thousands of jobs available right now across the hospitality sector – and this budget helps to deliver what is needed to get more Australians into those jobs.” 

“The expansion of $2.7 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC), which will deliver a further 170,000 new apprentices via a wage subsidy paid to businesses who take on a new apprentice, plus the expansion of the $1 billion JobTrainer Fund to fund a further 163,000 new training places will help fill the crippling staff shortage that exists across the hospitality sector today.”

Mr Lambert also praised the additional $1.7 billion investment in childcare as a sensible way to get more working parents into jobs to turbo charge our economic recovery.

“This measure will see thousands of working parents be able to pick up a local job working in a café, restaurant or catering business.”

“These measures, in conjunction with the recently announced visa changes will mean that hospitality businesses can stay open for longer, creating more jobs and helping them recover faster”, Mr Lambert said.

R&CA also welcomed the continued stimulus measure that will see low and middle-income earners receive a further $1,080 for individuals or $2,160 for couples at tax time.

“Local hospitality businesses need Australians to continue to drive local demand until our international borders can open. While that may not be until next year, this budget maps a path back to an Australia that is open to the world – including through strong investment in our ongoing vaccination program”, Mr Lambert said. 

With 93% of the restaurant, café and catering sector considered small businesses, R&CA welcomed the 2021-22 Budget as one that delivers a suite of measures designed to assist small business owners as they continue to recover. These include:

  • $10 million to help small businesses navigate the complex world of award compliance through technology;
  • $12.7 million to help thousands of small businesses improve their digital capability;
  • $8 million for a two-year campaign to encourage Australians to spend more at their local small or family business;
  • $0.9 million to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners;
  • $1.5 million in further funding to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to boost access to support and dispute resolution services;
  • The establishment of a new, independent umpire to assist small businesses to pause any ATO debt recovery actions until their case is decided by the independent umpire.

Mr Lambert said “These measures are fantastic news for small businesses by delivering significant red-tape reductions and support as they navigate Australia’s economic recovery.”

“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.”