Local hair salon owner: 'Red tape hurts small business'
LOCAL businesses facing issues with accessing government funding are worried they won't be able to grow because of complicated application processes.
Kepnock Hair owner Geri Sayre has lived and worked in Bundaberg for 17 years and has always employed local women to complete their apprenticeships at her hair salon.
After years of being able to access government funding to support her business while training an apprentice - Ms Sayre says she is now weighed down with the complications she has faced since attempting to apply for a Back to Work grant last year.
"I tried applying for an incentive when recruiting new staff and it was a nightmare," Ms Sayre said.
"Last year I put on a young girl in September and October to do a full time apprenticeship and was hoping to access funding through the state government."
Ms Sayre applied for funding and found she was continuously "kicked off" the system as she was trying to apply.
"I thought 'I'll try again tomorrow'- and went through that system about five times," she said.
"Eventually I would get past each step but it would say 'you're not eligible', yet I had been previously registered.
"And once you're 'ineligible' that is it - it (the system) sort of closes it - and the only time you can get back on is if you put on a new person."
Despite not being able to access the funding, Ms Sayre kept the apprentice on.
"I'm at the stage where I'm needing to put another person on, but without that extra bit of help for that first year ... I'm very reluctant to go down that funding path again, simply because it was a waste of time and you can't access the funds easily," she said.
She says the funding is important, especially for small businesses, to support the day-to-day costs of running the business after paying rent, wages and power bills.
"You don't cut corners, but it means you can't employ more staff," Ms Sayre said.
"It means I can't grow ... when you put on apprentices and you get them through with the correct funding it is like you are employing people for the future.
"We put on apprentices because we want to give back."
Joining Ms Sayre at a press conference yesterday morning, LNP Small Business Minister Fiona Simpson said small businesses were "Queensland's lifeblood" and should be given "the tools to be successful and grow, not taxed into the ground".
She said that a reduction in unemployment would be seen by helping small businesses grow.
"Sadly under the Palaszczuk Labor Government, our small businesses are being tied up with red tape, rather than being able to focus on growing their businesses and training new staff," Ms Simpson said.
"When you ask specific businesses, they will tell you about the forms that government forces them to sign."
Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman defended the Back to Work program.
"Back to Work is delivering fantastic results across the state and we have already invested over $10 million through Back to Work in Bundaberg assisting more than 500 local businesses to employ over 1100 locals including 184 apprentices and trainees.
"This is a program that the LNP wanted to scrap altogether at the last election.
"The Palaszczuk Government instead grew the program with an additional $155 million provided in this year's budget, assisting local small businesses to be able to grow and employ more Queenslanders.
"We have assisted Kepnock Hair owner Geri Sayre through our Back to Work program in 2016 and have contacted the business to provide advice on the late application process for an additional incomplete application."