Written answers

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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89. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details of the package of liquidity and enterprise investment measures worth €55 million which will be put in place to support small and micro companies through additional resources for Microfinance Ireland and LEOs as announced in the July stimulus package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19814/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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This Government is providing a range of liquidity assistance to businesses, through guarantees to the banks for their on-lending and through MFI to assist microenterprises. MFI lending was paused on 6th July, as their funding position had become constrained. The Microenterprise Loan Fund Amendment Act 2020, which was signed by the President on 10thJuly, will allow MFI to immediately resume lending with this additional grant funding of up to €30 million.  

Many businesses need assistance with restructuring their finances and will need greater access to term loans from their banks. A key issue for many businesses availing of the loan schemes is the first year of interest payments.  Recognising this issue, there will be support for businesses in this regard.

This July Stimulus allocation will expand the MFI COVID-19 Loan Fund by an additional €30m. MFI is currently funded to provide 0% interest on loans for 6 months.

There is currently €66.5 million provided for the LEOs (this includes the €33 million provided for in the Revised REV 2020 estimates). I am providing an additional €10m to the LEOs in the July Stimulus bringing the capital allocation to the LEOs to €76.5million or a 130% increase on the allocation at the start of the year.  The additional potential LEO beneficiaries could be in the order of 17,000 microenterprises across the LEO remit and including mentoring, training, grants and MFI throughputs.  

As microenterprises move into the recovery phase and as the LEOs deal with the remaining applications on hands in respect of the trading on-line vouchers and business continuity vouchers, there will be a growing demand for more of the traditional core offerings from the LEOs, such as business expansion grants and measures to increase productivity and continuous development of on-line presence.  No decision has been made on the allocation of funds to any individual LEO, but it will be used primarily for a combination of existing grant and soft support programmes and to address specific business needs for LEO core clients. 

In addition, LEOs will begin rolling out the additional €20m in Trading Online Voucher assistance for micro enterprises using funding from the Department of Communications as part of the July Stimulus, helping up to an additional 8,000 businesses. 

Full details on all COVID19 measures for business are available at:

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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90. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps being taken to assist those over 66 years of age that have businesses but due to age restriction were unable to claim the pandemic unemployment payment; the way in which they will be compensated in view of financial commitments they may have in view of the July stimulus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19916/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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On 23 July the Government announced the July Stimulus Package, a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees. It is bigger in scale than most budgets and will be deployed at speed.

The July Stimulus package is designed to help businesses to open, to help those that are already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, there are new opportunities. These new measures are in addition to those already announced since the onset of the Global Pandemic including the Temporary Wage Subsidy and low cost loans.

As part of the July Stimulus we have extended the wage subsidy scheme, which will run until the end of March 2021. It will be open to firms that do not currently participate and will be open to workers like seasonal workers, who were not previously included. We are also giving companies extra assistance to reopen and stay open through an enhanced Restart grant which is available to more firms and is more generous. We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. Businesses affected by COVID-19 will able to delay payment of their PAYE and VAT debts in part of in full for a set period with no interest or penalties. We are also granting all businesses, with limited exceptions, a waiver of commercial rates for the six months to end of September.

Further information on these, along with the full list of actions within the July Stimulus and how to avail of them can be found at www.gov.ie/jobsstimulus.  Up to date details of the range of financial aids offered by agencies and bodies on behalf of my Department is available at .

If businesses require further assistance, they should contact their Local Enterprise Office (LEO). LEOs are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for guidance and financial help for business owners. They provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State assistance available to business through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. They also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

The LEOs provide direct grant aid to microenterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector, subject to eligibility criteria. The LEO service offerings are available to applicants providing they can comply with the eligibility requirements which make no reference to age. 

In addition, the full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA 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.

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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91. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applications for supports under the various schemes for businesses impacted by Covid-19 that have been received from businesses in County Clare; the number of these that have been processed to date; the number that have been successful; the amount allocated to these businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20904/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The Government previously introduced a package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow among SMEs. Full details on all COVID-19 supports for business are available at: 

On July 23rdthe Government announced the July Jobs Stimulus, a €7.4bn package of measures designed to stimulate a jobs-led recovery and build economic confidence while continuing to manage the impact of Covid-19.  Further details on the July Jobs Stimulus are available at:

The Table below sets out the number of applications for supports received from businesses in County Clare under the various schemes.

Tables of uptake:

Scheme Number of firms / applications Number Processed to date Number of successful applicants Amount allocated Amount Requested
Sustaining Enterprise Fund - HPSU <5 N/A <5 €50,000 N/A
COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant 21 N/A 21 approvals €102,580 N/A
Lean Business Continuity Support N/A 6 approvals €15,000 N/A
COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme 10 N/A 7 approvals €233,011 N/A
Restart Grant 1239 1161 998 €5,638,513 €3,853,400
Business Continuity Grant 1 1 1 €2,500 €2,500
SBCI COVID-19 WCS N/A 70 12 €1,892,000 Not available
Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 Loan 27 N/A 13 €396,000 Not available
E-merge 4 4 4 €11,200 €11,200
Emergency Business Solutions 2 2 2 €4,500 €4,500
Business Continuity Vouchers 397 397 348 €677,592 Clients applied for a BCV and applications were assessed and approved up to a max. amount of €2,500
Trading Online Vouchers 302 135* 167** €417,500

*Applications currently being processed with clients

**Processed and final approval communicated to clients

The Local Enterprise Office in Clare submitted 12 Micro Finance applications and also provided Covid-19 related Mentoring Support to 246 participants and Training Support to 1,272 participants.

Later this year the Government will set out a National Economic Plan to chart a long term, jobs-led recovery. It will set out how we secure our public finances in a world where we must live with Covid-19, while driving efforts to decarbonise our economy and prepare for the next phase of technological transformation.


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