FINANCIAL SUPPORTS

I have heard that a number of financial supports for businesses have been announced by Government in recent days. Where can I find details of these supports?

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has published a guide on Government supports available to COVID-19 impacted business which also outlines some practical steps you can take. You can view this guide here.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has published information for employers and employees which can be accessed here. It has a dedicated COVID-19 phoneline that is open 9am-5pm – 01 248 1398 or 1890 800 024.

Enterprise Ireland have also published a COVID-19 Business Response Plan outlining guidelines and supports available to Enterprise Ireland clients, some of which may be relevant to you.

The Local Enterprise Office has launched a Business Continuity Voucher which is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. It is worth up to €2,500 for third-party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If your application is successful, a qualified expert will be selected by your Local Enterprise Office to work with you on your business continuity plans. 

The Government has announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme to provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis. 

This scheme includes:

  • A temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax.
  • Workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis will receive an enhanced emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203).
  • The COVID-19 illness payment will also be increased to €350 per week.
  • The self-employed will be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (rather than the Revenue scheme).

If you have employees, key supports you should be aware of include the following:

  • The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme allows employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. Employers will be refunded up to 70 percent of an employee's wages, up to a level of €410. The employer is expected to make their best efforts to maintain as close to 100% of normal income as possible for the subsidised period. Full details are here. Employers can apply on Revenue.ie. Revenue has also published updated FAQs in respect of the temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.
  • Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short-time Work Support.
  • For those workers who have been laid off without pay, there is no need to visit an Intreo Centre. The DEASP has introduced a new support payment for the self-employed who have lost business and to those who have lost employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. (See below.)

Further details on Government supports can be found on the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s website here.

What is the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and who is eligible for it?

As part of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has introduced the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment for anyone whose employer is unable to continue to pay them. This new payment is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a flat-rate payment of €350 per week which will be paid until this emergency passes. Further information on the process of how to apply for the new emergency payment and the application form can be found here. For the latest updates, visit www.mywelfare.ie

What Government supports are available for working capital?

Some supports that have been made available may be relevant and appropriate to your business. For instance, Microenterprises can access COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 6.8% and 7.8% and there is an option for a moratorium on interest and repayments for the first six months. Businesses can apply through their Local Enterprise Office or directly at microfinanceireland.ie. Eligibility criteria apply. An FAQ document for the COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland is available here.

The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Further information and application details are on the SBCI website at here. Eligibility criteria apply.

Further information on Government supports is available here.

What supports are available for bank borrowers?

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D. has outlined measures to support individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. A range of supports have been proposed by the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) which are to be discussed with the Central Bank. These are customer focused, so as to cater for the different impacts of COVID-19 on each individual customer, and to support businesses and employees across Ireland.

For SME customers these proposals include extensive supports where banks are working to ensure that a wide range of credit, cash flow and supply chain supports are offered to businesses who are trying to manage the pressures arising from COVID-19. A deferral of up to three months on loan repayments will be of assistance to many businesses. In addition, the banks are adopting a customer-focused approach to these businesses with a wide variety of tailored supports including extensions of credit lines, risk guarantees, and trade finance.

Customers facing difficulties due to COVID-19 are urged to contact their bank as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements that will assist them to come through this difficult period. 

I’m concerned about my ability to pay my tax returns. What can I do?

Revenue has posted advice for businesses experiencing trading difficulties as a result of COVID-19. This includes information on tax returns, the application of late payment interest, debt enforcement, tax clearance and customs.