Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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1. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason companies that do not have a business premise cannot access funding from the small business assistance scheme for COVID; the funding available to outdoor adventure and corporate events industry that has been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18072/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I am acutely aware of the difficulties that the necessary ongoing Covid-19 restrictions are putting on businesses right across the country. With this in mind the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

I would urge business owners to seek the supports outlined above if they have not already done so. I would also suggest they contact their Local Enterprise Office who can signpost them and advise them of supports that may be available for their business.

Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. Details of the wide range of supports available are on my Department’s website.

The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID which I recently announced aims to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and is designed to help with fixed costs.

Applicant businesses are required to operate from a building, or similar fixed physical structure on which business rates are payable. Where the rate account is addressed to a landlord for one or more tenant businesses the grant must be applied for and paid to the operating business in each case. The intention behind this provision is to assist businesses operating from fixed premises to meet some of the ongoing fixed costs of maintaining those premises.

The Government is very much open to proposals as to how we can help businesses further. However, our schemes are there to help meet fixed costs that cannot be avoided and to provide basic weekly income support up to maximum of €350 per week. We are not providing compensation for loss of personal income above this level or compensation for loss of profits for any sector.

The outdoor adventure industry is under the remit of my colleague, Minister Catherine Martin, in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media. An allocation of €55million was secured by that Department in Budget 2021 for a programme of funding under the strategic Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. The Scheme is designed to help strategically important tourism businesses through a direct financial contribution to support them with future operational and continuity plans. Fáilte Ireland is responsible for developing and administering the Scheme. Phase One of the Scheme, which ran from 11th February to 8th March, was open to outdoor activity providers. The process of payments to successful eligible applicants has commenced.

It should be noted that all Business schemes are being reviewed on an ongoing basis.


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