Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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60. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of businesses in counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal that have availed of the Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30055/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) is the largest loan guarantee scheme in the history of the State.The Scheme provides €2 billion in lending, for terms up to five-and-a-half years and offers a range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million at interest rates below market rates for similar type loans.  It is available to SMEs and small mid-caps (business with less than 500 employees), including primary producers (businesses engaged in the farming and seafood sectors).  The Scheme is available until 31 December 2021 following a Government decision in March to extend it in line with the extension of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework on State Aid.

In order to provide the public with relevant data on the performance of the scheme, my Department publishes weekly and monthly reports on its website.  These reports provide data on loans drawn under a wide variety of themes and are available at enterprise.gov.ie/en/Publications/COVID-19-Credit-Guarantee-Scheme-Performance-Reports.html.

As at 20 May:

- 84 businesses in County Sligo have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €3,896,666

- 36 businesses in County Leitrim have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €1,425,497

- 262 businesses in County Donegal have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €12,879,302

The Scheme is currently available through three commercial banks, six non-bank lenders and nineteen credit unions.  This long-term policy goal of diversification adds competition in the market and ensures a wide range of loan products are available throughout the regions.

I would strongly encourage businesses to avail of the low-cost lending facilities provided under the scheme as they look towards reopening.

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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61. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment The number of loans approved for each State-backed loan scheme supported by his Department in Dún Laoghaire and Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30105/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Since the onset of COVID-19, Government has worked to put in place a range of loan guarantee schemes that offer access to appropriate financing to businesses as they respond to the impacts of the pandemic on their business. The reporting for these schemes includes details on the uptake of schemes at county level, but more granular details are not provided.

These include the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, which makes available up to €2 billion in lending for terms of up to five-and-a-half years. These loans may be used for liquidity as well as for investment purposes, which means that this support may be of assistance to businesses in need of liquidity support post-lockdown. These loans are available at interest rates below market value for similar loans without a State guarantee.

Up to 20 May 2021, there had been 5,005 loans approved under the scheme, to a total value of €309.80m. As of the same date, there had been 1,092 loans drawn by businesses in Dublin, to a total value of €90,643,189.

The COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme makes relatively short-term working capital lending available to pandemic-impacted businesses. Loans under this scheme must be used to innovate, change or adapt in response to the impacts of the pandemic. These loans are offered for terms of up to three years, at a maximum interest rate of 4%.

To date (31 May), there have been 1,025 loans approved to sanction under this scheme, to a total value of €140.18m. Per-county uptake figures for this scheme are made available as part of quarterly reports on the scheme. The most recent report is that to the end of Q4 2020. As of this report, there had been 309 loans drawn by businesses based in Dublin, to a total value of €36.77m.

The Brexit Loan Scheme offers lending under similar terms to the COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme, however it is made available to eligible Brexit-exposed businesses. To date (24 May), there have been 291 loans approved to sanction under the scheme, to a total value of €58.53m. As of the most recent quarterly report (Q4 2020), there had been 102 loans drawn by businesses based in Dublin, to a total value of €19.4m.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme was launched in 2019 and was expanded by €500m in July of 2020 to bring the total available lending under this scheme up to €800m to assist long term, strategic investment by eligible businesses, including in response to Brexit and COVID-19. Loans under this scheme are for terms of 7-10 years.

To date (31 May), there have been 3,315 loans approved to sanction under this scheme, to a total value of €685.4m. Per-county uptake figures for this scheme are made available as part of quarterly reports on the scheme. The most recent report is that to the end of Q4 2020. As of this report, there had been 243 loans drawn under the scheme by businesses in Dublin, to a total value of €80.72m.

The Microenterprise Loan Fund operated by Microfinance Ireland assists businesses with fewer than ten employees. It provides much-needed funding to help microenterprises meet payments for stock, working capital requirements and other overhead expenses through the provision of low-cost lending facilities.

Microfinance Ireland provides vital support to microenterprises by filling the lending gap in the market by lending to business that cannot obtain loans from other commercial lenders.  It lends to business that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by commercial lenders and applies interest rate charges for its lending which are not reflective of its credit risk.  Loans are available for up to €25,000, with interest rates ranging from 4.5% to 5.5% on the Covid-19 Business Loan and from 6.8% to 7.8% on standard business loans.

Between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, MFI approved 296 loans to businesses in Dublin, to a total value of €7.4m.

Photo of Mark WardMark Ward (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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62. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports that are in place to sustain the events sector at present. [29842/21]

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), Small business assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.  The level of business supports is unprecedented and were further expanded by Government as announced earlier this week as part of the Economic Recovery Plan. 

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.

As you will be aware I have also announced the expansion of the SBASC scheme which will now take into account businesses who do not pay rates and also businesses that have a turnover below €50,000.  Phase 2 of this scheme will be open for applications in early June, with a closing date of 21st July.  Further details of the scheme including all eligibility criteria will shortly be available on my Department's website www.enterprise.gov.ie and on Local Authority websites.  

As noted earlier, on Tuesday the Government launched the Economic Recovery Plan including a substantial extension of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), and the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), and considerable enhancement of both EWSS and CRSS. This is complemented by a range of initiatives including extension of Commercial Rates Waiver, new additional Business Resumption Support Scheme, and extension of Tax Debt Warehousing Scheme.

The Economic Recovery Plan confirmed that a new events sector support scheme will be established providing a once-off scheme to address a gap in supports for SMEs in the sector for those that don’t qualify for CRSS or don’t make an application for support under MEBAS.

In the Economic Recovery Plan we have committed to continue to provide supports for worst-affected sectors including tourism and events as they continue to re-open, including the extension of 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality sector and supports for live entertainment and the events sector.  The Deputy can find more details on gov.ie or can seek further information from my colleague Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media who has primary responsibility for the tourism, hospitality and events sector.

Photo of Cormac DevlinCormac Devlin (Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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63. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of efforts to support orphan companies. [30230/21]

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), the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

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.

The 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. They are not created to provide compensation for loss of personal income above this level or compensation for loss of profits for any sector.

We announced the new Economic Recovery Plan this week, with €4 billion of stimulus to fuel the economy and businesses to recover and rebuild.

The Plan also outlined a number of changes to the current financial supports as public health restrictions unwind, assuring that the CRSS will remain in place for businesses that have to stay closed. For businesses re-opening in June and July, they will receive a double payment for the first three weeks upon reopening up to a maximum of €30,000. This will help firms with cashflow and to restock and re-engage with staff.

The EWSS is being extended until the end of 2021, the commercial rates waiver will continue during the third quarter of this year for those availing of it, the 9% VAT rate will be extended until the 1 September, 2022, tax warehousing is being extended until the end of the year and will be interest free in 2022, the PUP will be closed for new entrants from 1 July of this year and will be gradually phased out from 7 September.

A new additional, more streamlined business support scheme, the Business Resumption Support Scheme, will be introduced in September 2021 for businesses with significantly reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions. More details will be announced shortly.

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.

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