14 March 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed that a suite of supports will be made available to businesses in impacted by COVID-19.
Senator Lombard said: “I know that this is a worrying time for businesses and I want to assure them that my Fine Gael colleague, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, her Department and agencies are working on their behalf to develop and deliver a range of supports to help them through this rapidly evolving situation.
“Understandably, many businesses are very concerned about their cashflow in the coming weeks. I want to reassure them that there are a number of schemes that can help them meet their short-term working capital and liquidity needs.”
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have put a range of supports in place, including:
- A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website https://sbci.gov.ie/
- A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
- The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website https://microfinanceireland.ie/ or through your local LEO.
- The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years.
Senator Lombard also highlighted the following supports for firms experiencing trading difficulties and short-term shocks:
- The Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.
- Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office, see https://www.gov.ie/en/service/c20e1b-short-time-work-support/
- The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
Minister Heather Humphreys said: “We are facing an unprecedented level of uncertainty, and businesses may want to access advice on how best to protect their businesses. A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews.
The Minister also welcomed the package of reforms for sick pay, illness benefit and supplementary benefit that is designed to ensure that employees and the self-employed can abide by medical advice to self-isolate where appropriate.
Minister Humphreys concluded: “This situation is changing from day to day, and I will continue to work across Government, with the representative bodies and with the banking system to respond to ongoing developments in order to protect and support Irish businesses.”
Facts & Figures
- To be eligible for the SBCI COVID19 Working Capital Scheme, businesses must satisfy one of the COVID 19 criteria and one of the innovation criteria set out for the scheme. There is a broad suite of innovation criteria and this offers a wide range of opportunity for businesses to engage in the scheme. Guidelines will be provided on the SBCI website to help businesses determine if they are eligible for the scheme.
- The Department through its development agencies will continue to provide information support and to business on Continuity Planning Checklist, which includes a practical checklist as well as links to relevant COVID-19 advice developed in conjunction with the HSE and Department of Health.
- Enterprise Ireland will provide an online portal of advice and business continuity tools and webinars for business.
- Enterprise Ireland with the Local Enterprise Offices will activate advisory clinics and mentoring support for impacted firms.
- DEASP and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) are coordinating information for employees and employers on their rights and responsibilities in the case of employees being absent from work due to isolation and/or infection.
- Minister Humphreys is engaging with business representative bodies through the Enterprise Forum on COVID-19, which met today.
- The Department is leading across government and with key stakeholders to ensure continuity of food supply and Minister Humphreys is chairing a forum of large retail multiples, retail representative bodies and grocery distributors and food manufacturers.
- The Department is working with the European Commission on additional changes to State Aid de minimis rules that may be required to ensure the enterprise development agencies can respond effectively.