My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. These measures aim to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and to facilitate the practical actions to be taken in response to the UK's exit from the EU.
The Brexit Loan Scheme provides affordable working capital to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees that are or will be impacted by Brexit and meet the scheme criteria. The €23 million exchequer funding (€14 million from my Department and €9 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) has been leveraged to provide a fund of up to €300 million.
It has been designed to assist eligible Irish businesses in the short-term to deal with the challenges of Brexit, which include the pressures of increased market instability and currency volatility. The scheme is open to both State Agency clients and businesses that do not have any relationship with State Agencies. Sole traders may also apply.
The scheme features a two-stage application process. First, businesses must apply to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) to confirm their eligibility for the scheme. This application process requires businesses to use guidelines provided on the SBCI website to determine if they are eligible, and if so, to complete the eligibility form. As part of the process, businesses must submit a business plan, demonstrating the means by which they intend to innovate, change or adapt to meet the challenges posed by Brexit. Guidance is available on the SBCI website on how to complete a business plan. The SBCI assess the applications and successful applicants receive an eligibility reference number.
Successful applicants can then apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers. Participating finance providers are the Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Allied Irish Bank. Approval of loans under the Brexit Loan Scheme is subject to the finance providers’ own credit policies and procedures.
The scheme was launched in March 2018 and, as at close of business on 18th January, there have been 376 eligibility applications received of which 337 eligibility applications have been approved and 65 loans progressed to sanction at Bank level to a value of €14.9m.
Of the 337 eligibility applications, 42 food businesses have been approved for eligibility from the following categories: 2 under ‘Non-Primary Agriculture’, 27 under ‘Manufacturing’, 8 under ‘Wholesale & Retail Trade and 5 under ‘Accommodation & Food Service Activities’. Of the 65 loans progressed to sanction at Bank level, 8 relate to food businesses to a value of €3.8m.