13 May 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Sinn Féin’s Pat Buckley TD has called for additional supports for SMEs in Cork East. Today Sinn Féin wrote to the Minister for Finance and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation outlining their proposals.
They include an extension of the commercial rates break, a new €2bn Back to Business Loan Scheme at zero interest rates and grants paid directly to SMEs in affected sectors such as Retail, Tourism and Hospitality.
Pat Buckley, Cork East said:
“Today Sinn Féin wrote to the Minister for Finance and Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation requesting additional supports for SMEs that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“According to the Central Bank, there are more than 220 thousand SMEs that together employ more than 750 thousand people, that have been severely or moderately impacted by COVID-19.
“Economic recovery and return to employment in Cork East can only be happen if our SMEs recover. They can only do that with support from Government.
“The measures put in place to date to support small businesses in Cork East have been totally inadequate to date.
“Between 23rd March and 11th May, not a single loan was approved to SMEs under the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme. Up to 7th May, less than €7 million in loans had been granted to small and micro enterprises under Microfinance Ireland’s COVID-19 loan scheme.
“SMEs need support and they are not getting enough of it.
“Today Sinn Féin have called for a number of measures that would provide immediate relief and working capital to SMEs, including:
• An SME Grant Scheme for SMEs similar to that introduced by the Northern Executive and Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy, where one-off grants of £10,000 and £25,000 were provided to SMEs. The current policy of grants equivalent to no more than a firm’s 2019 commercial rates bill is totally inadequate to address the cashflow problems of our SMEs;
• A Back to Business Loan Scheme that would provide loans of between €2,000 and €60,000 for small firms, with a 100% guarantee to participating finance providers. Unlike the current SME Credit Guarantee Scheme, SMEs would not be required to make any repayments in the first 12 months with zero interest rates applied;
• Reducing the cost of borrowing under existing Government loan schemes such as the covid-19 loan scheme through Microfinance Ireland by applying zero interest rates in the first 12 months;
• Extending the commercial rates break for a further three months, with an additional three-month deferral available for affected businesses.
“These are policies that should be implemented as soon as possible to support our SMEs in Cork East, who are the backbone of our local economy.”