Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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1408. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the Covid-19 supports announced by her Department or State agencies under her remit; the application process involved and deadlines for each such support; and if primary legislation will need to be enacted to operationalise any of these supports. [6253/20]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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The COVID-19 crisis gives rise to many challenges for the nation as a whole and is having an unprecedented impact on the arts, culture, heritage and Gaeltacht sectors.  While the full financial and economic implications of the crisis are not yet known,  the impact on the sectors supported by the Department may extend well past the lifting of any COVID-19 restrictions.

Since the advent of the crisis, officials from my Department have been actively engaging with all sectors  and  continue to meet with those organisations under the  aegis of the Department, as well as a broad range of sectorial stakeholders across all policy areas. 

A number of initial support measures have been initiated by my Department, none of which require enactment of primary legislation and the Department continues to engage across its sectors on the range of cross-Government supports that are available as well as engaging on the challenges that are facing individual sectors.  

Details of supports for the culture sector are available on my Department's Website at

Details of those supports put in place by State Agencies under my Department's remit can be accessed on their respective websites, as listed in the following table:

Body Details available at:
Arts Council
Screen Ireland
Heritage Council  
Údarás na Gaeltachta  
Waterways Ireland  
Foras na Gaeilge  

My Department will continue to engage with the agencies under its remit and other sectorial stakeholders to ensure that there is a high level of awareness of the supports that are available and to ensure that optimal use is made of available resources to best support the sector at this challenging time.

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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1409. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the detail of each Covid-19 business supports Údarás na Gaeltachta is providing to companies in Gaeltacht areas; the application process involved; and deadlines for each such support. [6254/20]

Photo of Seán KyneSeán Kyne (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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Údarás na Gaeltachta is engaging directly with its client companies to support them and their staff through these challenging times and is working alongside Government, State Agencies and the Gaeltacht community on a cohesive approach to the COVID-19 crisis.

An tÚdarás continues to advise client companies on contingency planning – financial planning, liquidity issues and recovery strategies and companies are being actively encouraged to avail of the COVID-19 support schemes that are available both nationally and through Údarás na Gaeltachta as detailed below.

Seminars, online resources and property solutions continue to be provided to such companies in order to support them in getting ready to reopen in the coming weeks. Údarás na Gaeltachta works closely with Enterprise Ireland (EI) to ensure that all support schemes available through EI are also available to client companies of an tÚdarás either directly or where required in partnership with EI.

The following business response supports are designed to help businesses stabilise and adapt to the evolving situation, in preparation for getting back on the road to recovery.

COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant

The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant is a support available to Údarás na Gaeltachta SME clients and is operated in association with Enterprise Ireland. It is targeted at those manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ 10 or more full time employees. The grant helps companies to develop a robust financial plan with the support of professional assistance, including the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and/or other finance providers. The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, enables companies to access external support from approved financial consultants to prepare a financial plan to secure the company in the short to medium terms.

The financial plan will:-

- help the company to understand its immediate liquidity issues; determine how to minimise costs and maximise sources of liquidity;

- ensure that the company has a framework to manage the finances of the business;

- create a financial plan to secure the external finance that the company requires through the coming months;

- represent 100% funding of up to €5,000 to access an approved financial consultant, and

- be open via online application.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund — HPSU

The Sustaining Enterprise Fund – HPSU is aimed at High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic face delays to projected sales growth and whose fund-raising 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. The fund is open to companies in whom Údarás na Gaeltachta has an existing HPSU seed stage equity investment, who showed strong commercial and technical progress prior to the COVID-19 crisis and can demonstrate a clear need for additional funding. This fund is available to Gaeltacht HPSUs and operated in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland.

Sustaining Enterprise FundSmall Enterprise

The Sustaining Enterprise Fund - Small Enterprise purpose is to sustain eligible manufacturing and internationally traded services companies: who have been impacted by a 15% or more reduction in actual or projected turnover or profit and that require access to liquidity to sustain business continuity.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 3 years’ time.

The objectives of the fund are provide financial support (against detailed costs and cash flows) to eligible companies for a 3-month period to support business continuity so that companies can return to viability and contribute to the recovery of the Irish economy.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund

This is specifically aimed at all firms with 10 or more employees impacted by COVID-19 that are vulnerable but viable. The Fund is available to eligible Údarás na Gaeltachta clients and operated in conjunction with 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. These grants will only be repayable if and when a business returns to financial good health.

Lean Business Continuity Voucher

The Lean Business Continuity Voucher is available to eligible companies with 10+ employees to access up to €2,500 in training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their businesses during the current pandemic. The services may be in the form of management advice or training of management or staff within the company or a combination of both.

Companies can avail of support from a list of approved service providers.

The service provided focuses on the Operations of the company in terms of;

- Crisis response where appropriate,

- Sustaining Operations including process re-engineering (Lean, etc),

- Planning for resilience post crisis.

The Lean Business Continuity Voucher is open to small, medium or large client companies (including HPSUs) of Údarás na Gaeltachta and provided in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland.

Credit Guarantee Scheme

The Government’s Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Údarás na Gaeltachta is advising and mentoring companies on how to make applications to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.

Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 Loans

Microenterprises can access COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland. The Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 loan includes an option for a moratorium on interest and repayments for the first six months. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 4.5% and 5.5%. Údarás na Gaeltachta clients and Gaeltacht businesses can apply directly at microfinanceireland.ie following consultation with an Údarás na Gaeltachta development executive.

COVID-19 Retail Online Scheme

The new COVID-19 Retail Online Scheme is suitable to retailers employing over 10 people. The objective of the Scheme is to support companies in the indigenous retail sector with a pre-existing online presence to respond to both the domestic and international consumer demand for a competitive online offer. Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 80% of the project costs. Grants ranging from €10,000 to €40,000 will be awarded under the competitive scheme. Údarás na Gaeltachta is providing advice and support to Gaeltacht companies to assist them in preparing applications for the scheme which is operated by Enterprise Ireland

COVID-19 Údarás na Gaeltacht Online Trading Scheme

Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Online Trading Scheme assists businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This scheme was originally introduced by Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2017 in order to increase the number of Gaeltacht businesses trading online and to increase Gaeltacht business sales online. Under the Online Trading Scheme a maximum grant of up to €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenses, excluding VAT, whichever is lower, is available to eligible businesses to develop and strengthen their ability to trade ‘online’.

COVID-19 Údarás na Gaeltachta Business Continuity Voucher

The Business Continuity Voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders that employ up to 50 people to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a huge number of small businesses, survival is the over-riding objective at this time so making the right decisions is crucial. Successful applicants who avail of the voucher gain access to contingency planning advice to help continue trading through this crisis and prepare for the recovery phase. It also helps firms prepare a business case to apply for emergency financial interventions through the banks. The voucher assists different sectors, depending on the needs of each business, but includes significant measures such as preparing a business case for application to emergency funding, developing a business continuity plan, reducing variable costs, reviewing and exploring supply chain financing options, implementing remote working processes or procedures, and leveraging expertise in HR and ICT.

COVID-19 Act On Initiative Scheme

This support is available to Gaeltacht client companies which export and whose businesses is affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It provides access to 2 days consultancy engagement at no extra cost to assess financial management, strategic sourcing and transport and logistics advice.

Mentoring Scheme

The Mentoring Scheme provides support for a business mentor to assist businesses in the initial stage of their businesses or who give advice on specific areas of their business plan – vital assistance in these challenging times.

Údarás na Gaeltachta officials have been in contact with all clients directly to provide support, inform them of the best supports available to them and to assist them with the completion of forms.

Information and application forms for the various supports are available on the organisation's website and social media channels; Client companies are being urged to contact Údarás na Gaeltachta directly by phone in order to discuss their proposals with a Development Executive and to ascertain the support package most appropriate to a particular companies needs.

The COVID 19 support schemes will run until the end of 2020 as per all national schemes. Údarás na Gaeltachta also has its own range of schemes to support companies in their future development (Capital Investment, Marketing, Innovation and competitiveness).

Finally, can I reassure the Deputy that Údarás na Gaeltachta is continuing to work with colleagues across Government Departments and other State Agencies to develop further practical emergency supports for businesses based on these beneficial consultations.

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