Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment
Enterprise Support Services
29. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment if supports will be put in place to assist seasonal businesses with rent costs (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30182/20]
I understand this is a difficult time for many businesses, especially those heavily impacted by the crisis who are facing an uncertain future. I know that some firms are concerned about how they are going to continue to pay the rent due for their business premises. Throughout this crisis, the Government has been encouraging commercial tenants and landlords to engage with each other and have asked landlords to show forbearance in these extraordinary times. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of both parties to come to a reasonable arrangement.
To date the Government has provided enhanced provisions to a value of almost €20 billion including the €7.4 billion July Stimulus Package. The July Stimulus Package was, as promised, a package of measures of sufficient scale that demonstrates the commitment this Government has to save enterprises, limit the damage to our economy wreaked by this pandemic and get our people back to work. Indeed, it is bigger in scale than most budgets and it is being deployed at speed. It includes:
- A new Employment Wage Support Scheme succeeding the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme;
- Restart Grants of up to €25,000 available to a broad category of businesses such as hairdressers, sports clubs, cafes, restaurants, B&Bs, and independent hotels to help cover the costs incurred during closure and reopening costs;
- The ‘Stay and Spend’ initiative will see consumers benefit by up to €125 each for expenditure on hospitality activities during the traditional ‘off peak’ for this sector;
- A €10 million Restart Fund for the Tourism Sector;
- The new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to provide Irish businesses with access to low cost loans as they respond to the impacts of COVID-19. This is the biggest ever state-backed loan guarantee in Ireland;
- The recently reopened Microfinance Ireland Covid-19 Loan scheme; and
- Several other initiatives to provide vital liquidity to all impacted firms have been introduced including rates waivers, temporary VAT reductions, delayed payment of PAYE and VAT debts, in part or in full, for a set period with no interest or penalties, and the early carry back of trading losses providing immediate cash-flow support to previously profitable companies.
Recognising the economic impact of Covid-19 on pubs, bars and nightclubs, and to assist planning and adaptation for their re-opening, an additional €16 million support package for this sector was announced at the end of August. This included a 40% Restart Grant Plus Top Up for pubs, bars and nightclubs that remain closed to help them to reopen, a waiver of court fees and associated excise and stamp duties relating to the renewal of pub and other liquor licences in 2020 and a waiver of excise duty on on-trade liquor licences on renewal in 2020.
On 1st October, I published a new voluntary Code of Conduct between Landlords and Tenants for Commercial Rents. The Code, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government, has been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including Ibec, Retail Excellence Ireland, Chambers Ireland and Irish Institutional Property. It is based on an approach taken in other jurisdictions, including Australia, France and the UK.
The Code sets out how both parties can work together to get through these uncertain times. Landlords should be willing to do what they can to help their tenants to continue to operate rather than facing the risk of a vacant premises and inability to obtain new tenants. Equally, tenants should pay what they can and speak with their landlord when difficulties arise.
The Code can be found on my Department’s website here: