I am acutely aware of the difficulties faced by businesses across all sectors of the economy. I am in continuous engagement with my Ministerial colleagues on the optimal mix of supports for businesses, so that we have the right supports at the right time for business.
As part of the July Stimulus package the Government provided a mix of supports, ranging from direct grants, to loans and equity support. The July Stimulus is a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy. It is worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees. It is bigger in scale than most budgets and will be deployed at speed.
The July Stimulus is designed to help businesses to open, to help those that are 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.
We have already provided billions of euro into the economy, through wage subsidies, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, cash for businesses, low cost loans and equity investment through Enterprise Ireland and commercial rates waivers. We know these actions have made a difference and that by supporting businesses now we are investing to build the resilience of our economy.
Repairing the damage wrought on the economy – and keeping the virus contained – is vital for the wellbeing of our people. The mix of measures in the July Stimulus includes:
- supporting viable businesses and jobs, including new hires, through the extended wage subsidy scheme, which run until the end of March, will be open to firms that don’t currently participate and open to workers like seasonal workers who were not previously included;
- giving companies extra assistance to reopen and stay open through an enhanced Restart grant available to more firms and more generous;
- providing more and cheaper loan finance;
- grant funding to help businesses and get ready for Brexit; and,
- exploiting opportunities in areas like Life Sciences and investing in decarbonisation and digitalisation with grant funding.
My Department’s Sustaining Enterprise Fund (SEF) of up to €180 million is specifically aimed at firms operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, with 10 or more employees, that are vulnerable but viable. The SEF is operated by Enterprise Ireland with amounts between €100,000 and €800,000 available to eligible companies who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The fund includes a 50% non-repayable grant element, up to a limit of €200,000, together with equity and other repayable forms of support.
We will continue to keep the mix of funding assistance to businesses under review to ensure that we have the right supports at the right time.