COVID-19 business supports

Introduction

A number of supports are available for business owners to help you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On this page we summarise the financial support schemes and other supports to help if your business is unable to operate, you have reduced revenue or you need financial support to help your business operate safely during COVID-19.

You can also get advice from your accountant or use the advisory support from your Local Enterprise Office (LEO). Check if your insurance policy covers you for an interruption of your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by COVID-19.

The Government supports and guidance continue to develop as the COVID-19 situation changes. You can get up to date information from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Financial supports

The following financial supports are available to businesses and employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

Under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), you can get a flat-rate subsidy per employee, if your turnover has fallen by 30%.

COVID Restrictions Support Scheme

The COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) gives qualifying businesses a cash payment of up to €5,000 a week. The scheme applies when Level 3 or higher restrictions are in place in line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19.

You can apply to Revenue if your business premises are either closed to customers or substantially restricted in operating due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Loans, grants and vouchers

A range of other supports for businesses affected by COVID-19 are available.

COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme

The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme provides loans from €10,000 and €1 million for terms up to five and a half years. The size of the loan is linked to business turnover (25% of 2019 turnover) or wage costs (double annual wage bill in 2019).

The Scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders.

Small business assistance scheme

The new Small business assistance scheme (SBASC) provides grants to self-employed, sole traders, partnerships and companies with a annual turnover of between €50,000 and €25 million. Qualifying businesses can get two payments of €4,000.

In order to qualify for CBAS, you must be ineligible for CRSS, Fáilte Ireland Business Continuity Scheme or the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s Live Performance Support. You must have a reduction in turnover of at least 75%. You can read the rest of the qualifying criteria.

You can apply online through your local authority. Applications are open until 21 April 2021.

COVID-19 Business Loans

COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland (MFI). There are no repayments for the first 6 months and the equivalent 12 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loan terms are typically up to 3 years and there are no fees or charges.

The loan is open to sole traders, partnerships and limited companies with less than 10 full-time employees and annual turnover of up to €2m. You can apply through the MFI website or through your Local Enterprise Office.

COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme

Loans from €25,000 to €1.5 million are available to SME’s and small MidCap enterprises (defined as businesses with up to 499 employees), who meet the eligibility criteria.

Loans have a maximum interest rate of 4% and the first €500,000 borrowed can be unsecured. You can apply through the SBCI website.

Trading Online Voucher Scheme

A Trading Online Voucher Scheme worth up to €2,500 is available through to help small and microenterprises get online. A second voucher of up to €2,500 is also available. Contact your Local Enterprise Office for more information and application details.

Enterprise Support Grant

If you were getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance and are reopening your business, you may qualify for the Enterprise Support Grant.

The grant, worth up to €1000, is aimed at sole traders who do not pay commercial rates and, therefore, do not qualify for the CRSS or similar restart grants.

To apply, download the COVID-19 ESG 1 application form and return it your local Intreo Centre.

Future Growth Loan Scheme

The Future Growth Loan Scheme is available to businesses in Ireland, including those in agriculture and fishing sectors. Loans are available from €25,000 up to €3,000,000 for terms of between 7 and 10 years. The loans have a maximum interest rate of 4.5% and the first €500,000 borrowed can be unsecured. You can get more information on how to apply from the SCBI website.

COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant

You may be eligible for a Business Financial Planning Grant from Enterprise Ireland of up to €5,000 to help you develop a Business Sustainment Plan and to engage the services of an approved Financial Consultant. For more information and to apply contact Enterprise Ireland.

Live Performance Support Scheme

The Live Performance Support Scheme is aimed at established commercial producers and promoters. Funding is provided to help employ artists and musicians of all genres, performers, technicians and other support staff in the live performance sector.

Awards will range from €10,000 and upwards for live events that take place on or before September 2021. You can get more information on the qualifying criteria and how to apply. Applications close on 14 April 2021.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund

The Sustaining Enterprise Fund is aimed at firms in the manufacturing and international services sectors with 10 or more employees. The fund is operated by Enterprise Ireland and provides advances of up to €800,000 which are only repayable when a business returns to good financial health.

Apprenticeships

The Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme provides a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice, to support employers to take on new apprenticeships until the end of June 2021. You can get more information from Solas about how to apply.

Cross-border companies

If you are a cross-border company, you can get professional advice on COVID-19 challenges up to the value of €2,250 from InterTradeIreland’s Emergency Business Solutions. Under the E-Merge programme, you can get €2,800 in consultancy support, to help your business develop online sales and eCommerce solutions.

Help for specific industries

There are specific supports and guidance for different sectors of industry.

You can find up to date details of the key supports and resources in Section 4 of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment’s Supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19 booklet (pdf).

Rates waiver and tax measures

A number of measures are available to help businesses reduce their operational costs.

Waiving of commercial rates

Rates due to local authorities are waived until 30 June 2021.

There are some exceptions to this, contact your Local Authority for further details.

Reduction of standard rate of VAT

The standard rate of VAT was reduced from 23% to 21%, on 1 September 2020 until 28 February 2021. The VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sector decreased from 13.5% to 9% on 1 November 2020 until 31 December 2021.

‘Warehousing’ of tax liabilities

Debts that are warehoused are subject to 0% interest for 12 months. After this 12-month period, a reduced interest rate of 3% a year will apply.

You can get more information on the initiatives covering COVID-19 related tax debts in Revenue’s Information Booklet (pdf).

Advice for taxpayers and agents

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

Training and mentoring

Skillnet Ireland is running a number of initiatives aimed at helping small businesses through current business challenges.

The ReBound initiative gives small businesses online training and mentoring on implementing the return to work safely protocol. You can get more information about returning to work safely after COVID-19 closures.

The MentorsWork initiative is a free 8-week mentoring programme to support business recovery and help you sustain and improve your business. There are 300 places available and you can apply at mentorswork.ie.

Support is also available from:

Further information

The Government supports and guidance continue to develop as the COVID-19 situation changes. You can get up to date information from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).

You can get details of the key supports and resources in the Supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19 booklet (pdf).

DETE has set up an Enterprise Information Centre for information on the government supports available to businesses affected by COVID-19. Call 01 631 2002, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm or email: infobusinesssupport@enterprise.gov.ie.

Page edited: 19 March 2021