I am keenly aware that businesses are making a massive sacrifice to protect their communities and I am committed to ensuring that the Government offers as much assistance and support as possible. A comprehensive range of measures is in place for manufacturing and service firms of all sizes, 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. Details of the wide range of COVID-19 schemes are available on my Department’s website at https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.
We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. We are continuing to see strong take-up of the range of supports available for businesses, in particular of the cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. There has also been a surge in applications for Enterprise Ireland’s Sustaining Enterprise Fund; the non-repayable grant element of that Scheme is proving particularly attractive to companies seeking urgent working capital.
On 9th February last, I announced a new €60m Scheme, called the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), that is being developed to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and is designed to help with fixed costs. Wholesalers, suppliers, caterers and events companies down 75% or more in turnover who are in receipts of a rates bill can benefit.
We are committed to helping businesses respond to the economic challenges arising from the pandemic with a particular focus on firms that do not qualify for the weekly CRSS grant from the Revenue Commissioners or existing sectoral schemes in areas such as the arts, transport and tourism.
This new CBAS will help some businesses that are not eligible for existing grants, largely due to the fact that the premises they operate from have not been closed to the public. We estimate that this will help approximately 7,500 businesses. While the grant is modest it will be of substantial assistance to smaller businesses with some of their fixed costs like rent, utilities and security.
I will continue to work with my colleagues to monitor the schemes of our Departments and to identify practical actions to protect jobs, help businesses and build their resilience through this difficult time.