Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Enterprise Support Services

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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548. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which small and micro firms will access the redesigned €200 million sustaining enterprise scheme under new EU state aid flexibilities. [5678/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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My Department will continue to monitor the needs of companies as the situation evolves and provide new supports where required and appropriate to do so.  The €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund is specifically aimed at all firms with 10 or more employees in the manufacturing and international services sectors impacted by COVID-19 that are vulnerable but viable.  The Fund will be operated by Enterprise Ireland, providing repayable advances of up to €800,000 as agreed with the EU under new State Aid rules and, together with leveraged lending from the financial markets, should see up to €500m of additional investment in vulnerable but viable firms.  This fund will be repayable only after a three-year grace period and repayment by end of year 5 on successful achievement of the project objective.

I have also launched a new Sustaining Enterprise Fund for Small Enterprises on Thursday 7th May. This now includes a specific fund for smaller businesses of €25,000 and €50,000, depending on size and turnover of company.  This fund will be operated by Enterprise Ireland and provide liquidity to enable these enterprises to steer a pathway towards recovery and to introduce measures in response to the controls and health and safety requirements in line with changing work patterns and protocols and guidelines being introduced as we begin the re-opening of the economy.

These supports together with 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.

On Friday 15 May last, the Government agreed the arrangements for the new €250m “Restart Grant” for micro enterprises and small businesses.  The Restart Grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. Eligible businesses will receive a Restart Grant equivalent to their commercial rates assessment for 2019 (excluding arrears), subject to a minimum grant of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000. This grant will provide funding to enable small and micro business reconnect with their employees and customer base by helping to defray ongoing fixed costs and the costs, such as PPE, associated with re-launching the business.

I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government and all stakeholders to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19.  In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable under the EU’s state aid framework.

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