Since the outbreak of COVID-19 the Government has worked to support businesses through a wide range of financial measures including the wage subsidy scheme, Covid 19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), Small Business Assistance Scheme (SBASC), COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme, the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, the Future Growth Loan Scheme, commercial rates waivers and warehousing of tax liabilities.
On 3rd December the Government agreed additional public health measures to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are very aware that specific sectors will be particularly impacted by these measures and that targeted supports are needed to help many in these areas.
This is why there will be a limited re-opening of the Pandemic Employment Payment (PUP) to help those workers who may lose their jobs as a direct result of the introduction of the new restrictions.
A further extension of the current targeted commercial rates waiver for the first quarter of 2022 has been agreed for businesses in rateable premises.
Furthermore, additional financial supports from the Department of Finance will be announced imminently and will provide timely assistance to those sectors affected by the recent necessary public health measures.
The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is the largest scheme of its type in the history of the State and makes up to €2 billion in lending available to SMEs. Since its launch in September 2020, it has enabled vital access to loans for the SME sector. To date, loans to over eight and a half thousand SME businesses across the country have been drawn or sanctioned to the value of €599 million.
Many of these loans have been delivered to the sectors most impacted by the pandemic such as the wholesale and retail sector, accommodation and food services, and construction. These three sectors alone, account for forty-seven percent of the value of loans drawn.
The Scheme is currently available until 31 December 2021 in line with European Commission’s State Aid Temporary Framework. The Commission recently announced the extension of the Temporary Framework until 30 June 2022 and a legislative amendment to extend the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is currently under scrutiny by the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The COVID-19 Business Loan provides up to €25,000 to eligible micro-enterprises through Microfinance Ireland with low-cost interest rates and with zero repayments and zero interest for the first six months. Microfinance Ireland also provides start-up business loans and loans for established businesses for up to €25,000.
Finally, all financial help and supports for businesses are being kept under review across Government to ensure that they are timely and will target those that need them the most.