Supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Introduction

A number of supports are available for business owners to help you and your employees during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers. 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 coronavirus.

On 2 May 2020 the government announced additional supports for businesses and published a roadmap for reopening society and business. You can get more information in our document on Public health measures for COVID-19.

Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS)

The Government is asking employers who have closed their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to pay workers if possible. On 24 March, the Government announced a new Income Support Scheme to assist employers with paying workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers will receive up to 85% of their employee's weekly take home pay up to a maximum of €410 per week.

This scheme replaces the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme. If you have already applied for the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme, you do not have to lodge a new application for the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

You can read about this scheme in our document Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

This scheme is administered through Revenue and payments started on 26 and 27 of March.

General help for businesses

The Government has introduced a number of measures to assist businesses reduce their operational costs.

Waiving of commercial rates

Rates due to local authorities from the most immediately impacted businesses – primarily in the retail, hospitality, leisure and childcare sectors, are waived (previously deferred) for a 3 month period beginning on 27 March for businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements.

Annual returns and tax returns

All annual returns due to be filed by companies will be deemed to have been filed on time if all elements of the annual return are completed and filed by 30 June, 2020. This will enable businesses and their financial advisers to focus on the more pressing and immediate financial challenges.

The situation will be kept under review and the date of 30 June may be extended depending on the situation at that time. Companies should check the CRO website for more details.

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.

‘Warehousing’ of tax liabilities

COVID-19 related VAT and payroll tax debts, due from 1 March 2020 to the date when sectoral restrictions are lifted, will be deferred for a period of 12 months. There will be no debt enforcement action taken by revenue and no interest charge accruing for warehoused debit. You can get more information from revenue.

Joint First Responder support

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and DBEI will provide joint First Responder support services through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with the objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.

Support is also available from:

Cash flow supports for businesses

A variety of other supports for businesses affected by COVID-19 have been made available by the State and State agencies.

Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund

A €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), will make capital available to medium and large companies on commercial terms. You can get more information from the ISIF website.

Working Capital Loan Scheme

Loans from €25,000 to €1.5 million are available under the Working Capital Loan Scheme, operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). Loans are available to viable micro, small and medium sized enterprises ("SMEs") and Small MidCap enterprises, who meet the eligibility criteria.

A Small Mid-Cap is an enterprise that is not an SME but has fewer than 500 employees. The loans have a maximum interest rate of 4% and the first €500,000 borrowed can be unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website.

Future Growth Loan Scheme

Longer term loans from €100,000 to €3,000,000 are available for SME’s under the Future Growth Loan Scheme also operated through the SBCI. The loans have a maximum interest rate of 4.5% and the first €500,000 borrowed can be unsecured.

Credit Guarantee Scheme

A €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme will provide an 80% guarantee on lending to SMEs until the end of this year, for terms between 3 months and 6 years. SMEs will be able to go directly to the banks in the Scheme, and the guarantee can be used for a range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million that have a maximum term of 6 years or less. It will be available to all SME sectors, including primary producers.

The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is a further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme which is already available from AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, and it will be possible for other lenders to get access to the Scheme. Implementing this scheme will require legislation

Microenterprise loans

Microenterprise loans of up to €50,000 are available from MicroFinance Ireland for sole traders, partnerships and limited companies with less than 10 full-time employees and annual turnover of up to €2m. Applications can be made through the MFI website or through your Local Enterprise Office.

Business Continuity Voucher

A new Business Continuity Voucher is available through Local Enterprise Offices for businesses that employ up to 50 people. The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in 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 emergency.

Clients of Enterprise Ireland, IDA or Údarás na Gaeltachta should contact their relevant agency, which have other appropriate supports in place. Download an application form and email it to your Local Enterprise Office.

Trading Online Voucher Scheme

A new Trading Online Voucher Scheme is available through Local Enterprise Offices to help small and microenterprises get online. The voucher is worth up to €2,500. A second voucher of up to €2,500 can be sought once the first has been successfully utilised. Voucher numbers are limited - contact your Local Enterprise Office for more information and application details.

Business Financial Planning Grant

A Business Financial Planning Grant from Enterprise Ireland to the value of €5,000 to assist companies to develop a Business Sustainment Plan and to engage the services of an approved Financial Consultant. For more information and to apply contact Enterprise Ireland.

Finance in Focus grant

A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients.

Online Retail Scheme

A COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme is open to retailers employing over 10 people. Grants ranging from €10,000 to €40,000 will be awarded under the competitive scheme to retailers seeking to improve their existing online capability.

Restart Fund for micro and small businesses

A Restart Fund of €250 million has been created for micro and small enterprises. The fund will operate through a system of rebates/waivers of commercial rates payments from 2019. Companies will receive a total amount equivalent to no more than their 2019 rates bill and that there will be a cap per business of €10,000. The grant can be used to pay ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety.

To get the grant a business must:

  • Be in the Local Authorities Commercial Rates Payment System
  • Have an annual turnover of less than €5 million and employ between 1 to 50 people
  • Have closed or suffered a projected 25% or more loss in turnover to the end June 2020
  • Commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed
  • Declare the intention to retaining employees that are on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and to reemploy staff on the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment where applicable

You can apply online for the grant through your local authority since 22 May 2020.

You can read more about how the Restart Fund will operate.

Help for specific industries

The Government has announced packages of assistances to sectors of industry and commerce that have been most badly affected by COVID-19.

Manufacturing and international services

A €180m Sustaining Enterprise Fund for firms with 10 or more employees in the manufacturing and international services sectors to be operated by Enterprise Ireland, providing advances of up to €800,000 which are only repayable when a business returns to good financial health.

Food and drink industries

Bord Bia has introduced the COVID Response Marketing Support Package, a marketing grant scheme open to food, drink and horticulture (edible and amenity) producers who are client companies of Bord Bia, with a turnover between €100,000 and €25 million in 2019. The closing date for receipt of applications was Thursday, 16 April 2020.

Restaurants and cafes will not have to apply for planning permission to operate as take-away services during the emergency period. The emergency period set out in legislation is 13 March 2020 to 31 May 2020. This period may be extended.

The Digital School of Food is an e- learning hub from the Local Enterprise Office to help food manufacturing businesses to develop and grow their Irish businesses.

Childcare providers

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has set out emergency measures to support childcare providers while childcare facilities are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more in our document on Childcare and COVID-19.

Construction industry

The Construction Federation Industry has developed a Back to Work Resource Pack (pdf) to help prepare your business for getting back to work after the COVID-19 emergency measures are relaxed. You can get more information from cif.ie. You should keep up to date with announcements from the Health Service Executive.

Charity, social enterprise and voluntary organisations

A €5 million Innovate Together Fund will support responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund offers grants and other supports to eligible projects relating to community outreach for vulnerable groups while social distancing, health, education, reskilling the workforce and the economy can apply. Applications open on 13 May until 27 May 2020. You can get more information on socialinnovation.ie.

Lay-offs, reduced hours and social welfare supports for your employees

If you cannot pay your staff while they are laid off for this period, your employees can apply for the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

You can read more about social welfare entitlements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you reduce your employee’s hours to 3 days or less per week from their normal full-time hours, your employee can apply for Short Time Work Support which is a type of Jobseeker’s Benefit.

Find out more about:

Further information

Page edited: 25 May 2020