Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Budget 2021

Photo of John McGuinnessJohn McGuinness (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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39. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment the supports his Department is providing for the SME sector through budget 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30592/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Budget 2021 is a pro-business and pro-jobs Budget aimed at building on what we put in place in the July Stimulus, to help the self-employed, business owners and employees through this exceptionally difficult time. We are providing a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help self-employed and vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. We are providing for an extension of the tax warehousing scheme to include repayments of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme funds owed by employers and preliminary tax obligations for the adversely affected self-employed.

So as to ensure that all self-employed taxpayers can benefit from the losses provision introduced in the July Stimulus, we are also providing that debt warehousing provisions be extended to include the 2019 balance and 2020 preliminary tax to allow such taxpayers to defer payment for a period of a year with no interest applying.

As part of Budget 2021 the Minister for Finance is also delivering on the commitment in the Programme for Government commitment to equalise the Earned Income Credit with the PAYE credit by raising it by €150 to €1,650.

These measures are in addition to the July Stimulus €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme which we are extending through 2021, 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 amongst self-employed. Full details on all COVID-19 supports for business are available at: .

The July Stimulus is a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees. The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme facilitates up to €2 billion in lending to eligible businesses. Loans under the Scheme range from €10,000 to €1 million, for terms of up to five and a half years. Loans of up to €250,000 under the Scheme are available unsecured.

COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first 6 months and the equivalent of an additional 6 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loans can range from €5,000 to €25,000.

The pandemic has caused untold damage to peoples’ lives and livelihoods. I know that many businesses have been severely impacted by the restrictions needed to ensure public health safety during the pandemic. Our response to COVID-19 will continue to support those businesses affected.

Budget 2021 provides a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors.

The new measures in the Budget are in addition to those already announced for this year, including the Temporary Wage Subsidy, the Restart Grant and Restart Grant Plus, cash for businesses, low cost loans and commercial rates waivers. As of 9th October, 45,505 businesses had applied for grants, with €155.2m approved. 54,938 applicants had applied for the Restart Grant Plus, with €273.4m approved.

As part of Budget 2021, the Exchequer allocation for my Department will increase by €254m. I am allocating an additional €136m to address ongoing COVID-19 challenges, including €50 million to Enterprise Ireland. I am allocating €30 million in further funding will go to the IDA and EI for an EU approved COVID Life Sciences Products Schemes, €25 million to IDA and €5 million to EI. We will maximise the potential of the exemption from EU state aids afforded through this scheme. This will deliver very significant economic and employment benefits. I am also providing €5 million in funding for the Online Retail Scheme to allow retailers to enhance their online presence.

I am providing

- €10 million to continue the non-repayable grant of up to 50% of a funding package available under the Sustaining Enterprise Fund through Enterprise Ireland.

- €14 million to fund my Department’s contribution to increase the lending capacity under the Future Growth Loan Scheme

- further capitalisation of Microfinance Ireland by €5 million to allow it to continue to provide its tailored COVID Loan Scheme to micro enterprises impacted by the pandemic

- €25 million to meet liabilities in the first full year of the new COVID Credit Guarantee Scheme.

I want the impact of this pandemic to be a lost year and not a lost decade. So, we will continue to focus on what we can do to grow businesses and grow opportunities for Irish business. To grow resilience and productivity in businesses.

Our focus in allocating our funding is to ensure that businesses who need help with challenges arising from Brexit and COVID-19 get it and get it when they need it.

We are focusing on providing the right funding and support to help grow resilient and future-focused businesses beyond COVID, beyond Brexit towards the economy of the future.

As part of Budget 2021, we announced the new COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) to provide targeted support for businesses.

The scheme is designed to assist those businesses whose trade has been significantly impacted or temporarily closed as a result of the restrictions as set out in the Government’s ‘Living with COVID-19’ Plan. The scheme will generally operate when Level 3 or higher is in place and will cease when restrictions are lifted.

The sectors impacted by the current Level 3 nationwide restrictions are accommodation, food and the arts, recreation and entertainment. If the Government decides to move to a higher level of restriction then other sectors may qualify.

For these businesses, the Government will make a payment, based on their 2019 average weekly turnover, to provide support at a difficult time.

The scheme will be effective from 13thOctober until 31st March 2021, and the first payments will be made to affected businesses by mid-November.

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