Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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542. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of firms that have applied for each enterprise support measure and-or scheme since 1 March 2020 in response to Covid-19 provided by her Department and each State agency under her remit; the number of firms that have received assistance to date; the value of supports that have been granted; the breakdown by SMEs by size, that is, less than ten, 11 to 49, 50 to 249 and greater than 250 employees, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5669/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for all of us in society, since the start of the pandemic, a key focus of Government has been to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review and to continue to support enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them. 

I announced on April 8 a major expansion of supports for all businesses impacted by Covid-19. The package is now worth €1 billion in liquidity measures including a new €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund.

In addition to the new package of liquidity measures I announced, which are detailed below, the full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

For Enterprise Ireland

- Sustaining Enterprise Fund: This €180 million fund will provide support to eligible manufacturing and internationally traded services companies employing 10 or more employees who have been impacted by a 15 per cent or more reduction in actual or projected turnover or profit, and/or have a significant increase in costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The objectives of the scheme are to ensure eligible companies have access to the necessary liquidity and sustain business so that companies can return to viability and contribute to the recovery of the Irish economy.

The Fund will provide financial assistance in the form of repayable advances of up to a maximum of €800,000 per company.

- This fund will provide a €25k to €50k short term working capital injection to eligible smaller companies to support business continuity and strengthen their ability to return to growth and be trading strongly in three year’s time.

- New HPSU fund to Sustain Enterprises: This fund is aimed at EI High Potential Start-Up companies who, due to the Covid-19 pandemic are facing delays to projected sales growth and whose fundraising plans are significantly impacted or stalled. Under this fund, HPSUs can apply for co-investment of €50,000 per undertaking in the form of equity or convertible debt instruments.

In addition to this fund Enterprise Ireland has launched the following supports:

- Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant:A €5k grant for eligible companies to work with third party consultants to prepare a detailed financial plan with forecasts and assumptions.

- Lean Business Continuity Voucher: A €2.5k voucher for eligible companies to access training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their business during the current pandemic.

- Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme is a grant for retail companies with greater than 10 employees to develop a more competitive online offer.  This competitive call has a budget of €2 million. Successful applicants will receive funding support of up to 80% of project costs, with a maximum grant of €40,000.

In addition to these new supports, there are a range of other supports available to companies to assist eligible companies respond to Covid-19; these are:

-Strategic Consultancy Grant

- Act On supports

- Key Manager Grant

- Business Process Improvement Grant

- eiLearn Online Learning Platform

- EI Virtual Mentoring Support

In addition to the Covid-19 supports, Enterprise Ireland has a range of supports to assist companies to start, scale, innovate, remain competitive and diversify into new markets.

For SMEs:

The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme will increase by €250m to €450m. The Scheme is providing essential liquidity support to businesses with over 1,400 applications received by the SBCI so far. Loans can be between €25,000 and €1.5m at a maximum interest rate of 4%. Loan terms range from one year to three years and loans can be unsecured up to €500,000. Interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans.

I am supporting the provision of significant additional COVID-19 funding through the SBCI Future Growth Loan Scheme, which will be released in tranches, to provide longer-term loans to COVID-19 impacted businesses. Loan amounts will range €100,000 to a maximum of €3,000,000 per applicant. Loan terms range from 8 to 10 years and loans of up to €500,000 can be unsecured. Interest-only repayments may be available at the start of the loans. The maximum interest rate will be 4.5%.

New €2,500 Business Continuity Voucher:

This Voucher is available through Local Enterprise Offices and is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. It can be used by companies to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. These measures are in addition to the €150m of funding capacity in the Government’s Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Microenterprises (under 10 employees) and businesses with over 10 employees:

I am providing Microfinance Ireland (MFI), which is administering special COVID-19 Loans, with an additional €13m in capital support bringing its total lending capacity up to €20m for the coming period. There is also a substantial reduction in interest rates on these loans from 7.8% to 4.5%. Loans can be made up to €50,000 with no repayments required and no interest charged in the first six months.

The €2,500 Trading Online Voucher Scheme for microenterprises is being expanded - an additional €3.3m is being provided to the scheme bringing the total available to €5.6m. The scheme is also being made more flexible - allowing businesses to apply for a second voucher of up to €2,500 where they have successfully utilised their first one; and allowing subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions to quickly establish a retailing presence online.

InterTradeIreland

ITI has launched two new business supports, these are currently being targeted at companies who are already on one of their programmes.

E-merge: this will enable companies to engage consultancy support & advice (to the value of £2500/€2800) to help them develop online sales & ecommerce solutions

Emergency Business Solutions: Fully funded consultancy support & advice (to the value of £2000/€2250) to address key business challenges in areas such as emergency cashflow, loan applications and HR/People.

On Saturday 2 May, I also announced a further suite of measures to support small, medium and larger business that are negatively impacted by Covid-19 with Minister Paschal Donohoe, T.D., Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform and Minister Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. This package of support followed the publication of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, which sets out a five-stage plan to ease the Covid-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society. The new measures we announced included:

-A €10,000 restart grant for micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019;

- A three-month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses;

- A €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms;

- A €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to support lending to SMEs for terms ranging from 3 months to 6 years, which will be below market interest rates;

- The ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of twelve months after recommencement of trading during which time there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt; and,

- A commitment to local authorities to make up the rates shortfall, so that local authorities can continue to provide full services to the public.

As the Deputy is aware I also announced details of the new €250 million Restart Grant for businesses on 15th May last. Eligible businesses can apply for a grant of a minimum of €2,000 and maximum of €10,000 and the scheme will be open for applications through local authorities from 22nd May.

The Government continues to explore funding potential at EU level, as necessary, for all enterprises including micro-enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, through all potential funding mechanisms such as the European Regional Development Fund and through the mechanism of the EU’s state aid framework. The Government remained poised to react swiftly to the developing landscape for enterprises and will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review.

Table 1: Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme uptake by business size:

Number of Employees  Number of Loans  Value of Loans
Less than 10 77 €7,176,000
11 - 50 46 €8,384,000
51-250 10 €5,700,000
Total  133 €21,260,000

Table 1 provides details of the first €21.26m of loans progressed to sanction under this scheme, sorted by the size of the applicant businesses.

Table 2: Future Growth Loan Scheme uptake by business size:

Number of Employees  Number of Loans  Value of Loans
Less than 10 720 €116,243,376
11 - 49 271 €79,859,660
50-249* 52 €25,840,500
Total 1043 €221,943,536

Table 2 provides details of the first €222m of loans progressed to sanction under this scheme, sorted by the size of the applicant businesses.

*Please note that the number of businesses of more than 250 employees that have benefitted from the scheme is small and these have been included in the category of businesses with 50-249 employees to avoid any potential confidentiality issues.

Note: The employment data in the table above for EI supports is based on the Annual Employment Survey 2019. Please note the companies with no employment classifications were not included in the AES survey. The figures above represent the figures at plant level and is not an indication of their company SME/Large status.

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