Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
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452. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when funds will be released for successful restart grant applicants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11357/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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On Friday, 15 May 2020, the Government decided to establish a new €250m Restart Grant providing 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 funds for the Restart Grant were transferred by Enterprise Ireland to all local authorities on Wednesday 10 June and the payments are now being dispersed to applicants. As of Friday 12th June 2020, funding of €17.12m had issued to businesses under the scheme.

Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online directly to local authorities.

Further information on how to apply is available at: .

Steven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party)
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453. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she will investigate a situation that has arisen with regard to microenterprises that are unable to access the restart grant in view of the fact they do not operate in a rateable premises; and if she is considering other liquidity grants for this type of business in order to assist them with reopening. [11437/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Restart grant is designed to help small and micro commercial enterprises to re-launch their business and reconnect with their employees and customers. The grant is being paid using the Local Authorities Commercial Rates System as the most efficient means of delivery. The grant is the amount of the 2019 rates assessment subject to a minimum grant of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000.

To qualify for a grant, an eligible business:

- Must have a turnover of less than €5m and have 50 or less employees.

- Must have suffered a projected 25%+ loss in revenue from 1 April 2020 to 30th June 2020.

- Must commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed.

- Must also declare the intention to retain employees that are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

The aim is to get these businesses up and running, trading as normally as possible so that they can retain employees who will no longer need a temporary wage subsidy or be able to take back workers who are on Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs. 

This package is a significant step-up in the supports available for all businesses in all sectors at this very difficult time. The measures have been developed to meet the varying needs of Irish enterprise and they are very specifically targeted by size, sector and need and are targeted at vulnerable but viable companies.

The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID19 global pandemic has resulted in a swiftly evolving landscape for enterprises. The Government will continue to use all available tools at its disposal to support businesses and ensure their survival. In that context, I will keep the supports provided under review and continue to support enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them.

For a full list of supports for business please see .

Christopher O'Sullivan (Cork South West, Fianna Fail)
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454. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she has considered a grant for hotels and accommodation providers to purchase PPE equipment to make their premises safer for customers during the reopening phase; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11447/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite 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.

These supports are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see .

The Restart Grant provides direct grant aid to businesses employing up to 50 people, including in the hospitality sector, for the purposes of restarting and investing in necessary PPE and meeting other costs. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. Funding in respect to the Restart Grant is provided by my Department and is administered by the 31 Local Authorities.

Any further targeted supports specifically aimed at the tourism sector will be initiated and led by my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport who has recently formed a special Tourism Recovery Taskforce dedicated to spearheading economic recovery for the tourism sector. For further information see .

The full range of Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta 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. My Department is encouraging any affected business to take advantage of the LEO COVID-19 supports. The situation is still developing from day to day and the Government continues to respond to these developments in an effort to protect and support Irish businesses. The LEOs will continue to work with existing applicants and recipients of Business Continuity Vouchers (BCV) and their subsequent business continuity plans. The awarding of vouchers under the BCV scheme will naturally taper off in the coming weeks as the Local Enterprise Offices process the outstanding applications.

In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including micro-enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

Government has agreed 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 be able to be used for 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 in the hospitality sector. It will also have interest rates below current market rates. The implementation of this Scheme will require primary legislation, the drafting of which has been approved by Government, and my officials are working with the Office of the Parliamentary counsel on this drafting work.

Work is also under way to extend existing schemes in place to support access to finance for businesses to ensure that they can continue to offer support to businesses as they look towards reopening. These include the Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme and the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

The Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme makes lending available to eligible businesses that have been negatively impacted by issues arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland as they seek to innovate, change or adapt in response to this disruption. Loans under this scheme are for up to three years and range from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme provides long term loans of 8-10 years to businesses at low interest rates. There has been significant demand for the scheme and the initial funding has been almost fully subscribed. This expansion will further support the needs of SMEs, including primary producers, impacted by COVID-19. This new funding will be released in tranches. The long-term nature of these loans is particularly important for businesses as they plan for recovery. Work is under way to deliver this funding as quickly as possible.

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

E-merge enables 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the Irish and global economy. COVID-19 has emerged as a sudden and profound disruptor. Both globally and nationally it is unclear how deep the impact will be or how long it will last. The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting significant challenges for SMEs, the impact of which varies by sector and region.

I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19 and will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review.

Christopher O'Sullivan (Cork South West, Fianna Fail)
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455. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she will provide supports for the hotel industry to pay towards the extra staffing costs required to maintain hygiene and social distancing standards during the reopening phase of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11448/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite 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.

These supports are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see .

The Restart Grant provides direct grant aid to businesses employing up to 50 people, including in the hospitality sector, for the purposes of restarting and investing in necessary PPE and meeting other associated costs of reopening. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. Funding in respect to the Restart Grant is provided by my Department and is administered by the 31 Local Authorities. The details of the online application form can be accessed by businesses in the hospitality sector at: .

Any further targeted supports specifically aimed at the tourism sector will be initiated and led by my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport who has recently formed a special Tourism Recovery Taskforce dedicated to spearheading economic recovery for the tourism sector. For further information see .

The full range of Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta 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. My Department is encouraging any affected business to take advantage of the LEO COVID-19 supports. The situation is still developing from day to day and the Government continues to respond to these developments in an effort to protect and support Irish businesses. The LEOs will continue to work with existing applicants and recipients of Business Continuity Vouchers (BCV) and their subsequent business continuity plans. The awarding of vouchers under the BCV scheme will naturally taper off in the coming weeks as the Local Enterprise Offices process the outstanding applications. 

In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including micro-enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

Government has agreed 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 be able to be used for 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 in the hospitality sector. It will also have interest rates below current market rates. The implementation of this Scheme will require primary legislation, the drafting of which has been approved by Government, and my officials are working with the Office of the Parliamentary counsel on this drafting work.

Work is also under way to extend existing schemes in place to support access to finance for businesses to ensure that they can continue to offer support to businesses as they look towards reopening. These include the Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme and the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

The Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme makes lending available to eligible businesses that have been negatively impacted by issues arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland as they seek to innovate, change or adapt in response to this disruption. Loans under this scheme are for up to three years and range from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%.

Future Growth Loan Scheme provides long term loans of 8-10 years to businesses at low interest rates. There has been significant demand for the scheme and the initial funding has been almost fully subscribed. This expansion will further support the needs of SMEs, including primary producers, impacted by COVID-19. This new funding will be released in tranches. The long-term nature of these loans is particularly important for businesses as they plan for recovery. Work is under way to deliver this funding as quickly as possible.

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

E-merge enables 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the Irish and global economy. COVID-19 has emerged as a sudden and profound disruptor. Both globally and nationally it is unclear how deep the impact will be or how long it will last. The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting significant challenges for SMEs, the impact of which varies by sector and region.

I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19 and will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review.

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