The Government introduced the July Stimulus €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs. Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/
The July Stimulus Package is a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees which is bigger in scale than most budgets and is being deployed at speed. The July Stimulus package was designed to help businesses to open, to help those already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, there are new opportunities.
The range of measures in place to assist businesses include direct grants to support viable businesses and jobs, including new hire. We have extended the wage subsidy scheme, which will run until the end of March 2021 and will be open to firms that do not currently participate and open to workers like seasonal workers who were not previously included, and we are giving companies extra assistance through an enhanced Restart Plus grant of up to €25,000. From 1st September, the six-month reduction in the VAT came into effect, going down from 23% to 21%.
We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. I announced the reopening of MFI lending on 31st August and I launched the €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme on 7th September.
Businesses that are in the chauffeur sector may also be eligible for the Government's new Restart Grant Plus Scheme where they operate from a rateable premises. Grants of between €4,000 up to a maximum of €25,000 are available. Those businesses that accessed funding through the previous round of the scheme are eligible to apply for a second top-up payment to a total combined value of the revised maximum grant level.
The Government is examining all appropriate business supports to assist enterprises, including self-employed service providers, impacted by Covid-19, as we prepare the forthcoming Recovery Plan.
My colleague, Minister Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister for Transport may be able to provide more specific guidance on supports for the transport sector, and private chauffeur providers.