Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
545. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the application process and steps that micro and small businesses will have to take to access a restart grant of up to €10,000 in value as announced on 2 May 2020 (details supplied); if primary or secondary legislation will have to be enacted to operationalise this grant; and the amount allocated towards the grant scheme. [5672/20]
604. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the projected number of micro and small businesses which will be able to qualify for the maximum restart grant value as announced on 2 May 2020 (details supplied). [6350/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 545 and 604 together.
On Friday, 15 May 2020 the Government agreed details of the new €250m Restart Grant, which will give direct grant aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures.
The Grant will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or less, which were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to 30 June 2020. It is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers.
The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019, or a minimum payment of €2,000, whichever is the higher, and a maximum payment of €10,000. Those businesses with outstanding rates bills are also eligible to make an application if they meet the criteria.
Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online to local authorities from Friday 22 May. Processing of applications and payment of the Restart Grant will depend on the initial surge of applications but, as far as is feasible, will be prioritised according to scheduled re-opening dates in the national Roadmap.
To avail of the Restart Grant, a business must be in the Local Authorities Commercial Rates Payment System and:
1. have an annual turnover of less than €5m and employ between 1 to 50 people;
2. have closed and/or suffered a projected 25%+ loss in turnover to end June 2020;
3. commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed;
4. declare the intention to retaining employees that are on The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and to reemploy staff on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment where applicable.
The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs and in particular for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety.
This direct grant support is part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the Wage Subsidy Scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.
546. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the likely interest rates foreseen under the €2 billion Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme as announced on 2 May 2020 (details supplied); and if the scheme is availing of new EU state aid flexibilities. [5674/20]
The Government on 2 May announced a new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme as a further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme already available from AIB, BOI and Ulster Bank.
This Scheme forms a major component of the government’s strategy to aid SMEs in these difficult times by providing critical support to ensure businesses are facilitated in having access to credit facilities to assist a return to a more regular trading environment.
It will provide an 80% guarantee on lending to SMEs until the end of this year, for terms between 3 months and 6 years. The guarantee will support a wide range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million that have a maximum term of 6 years or less.
The Scheme will be available to all SME sectors, including primary producers and to Mid-Caps employing up to 500 staff. It will have interest rates below current market rates. The implementation of this Scheme will require legislation, the drafting of which has commenced.
It will also require approval from the European Commission under the ‘Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak’. My officials are working closely with DG Competition to ensure that this approval can be secured in a timely fashion.
The Government is supporting the provision of access to liquidity at lower than market rates. There is limited scope as some interest must be charged by the banks to cover overheads and capital costs if they are to continue to work with Government. However, I have asked my officials to continue to look into the question of interest rates and see if there is a way to achieve interest rate reductions.
There are strong advantages to loan schemes that run through the banks –
-There is a wide reach across the country.
- They encourage businesses to continue their existing relationships with their banks.
- Banks understand the financial issues faced by customers during this crisis and can work through problems with them – in addition the banks have announced that they may be able to offer payment holiday or emergency working capital facilities.
Finally, loan schemes allow the Government to leverage Exchequer funding to increase the volume of funding available, thereby providing much-needed support to more businesses.
These loans are one part of the suite of initial supports for Covid-19 affected businesses, which also includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, waiver of commercial rates, warehousing of tax liabIlities as well as advisory & mentoring supports.