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. Some of these key supports include:

On 23 July 2020, the Government announced further supports for businesses under the July Jobs Stimulus Package.

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.

Supports for businesses

Skillnet Ireland is running a number of initiatives aimed 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 also get information in our document on 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:

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)

A new Employment Wage Support Scheme was announced on 23 July 2020 under the July Jobs Stimulus Package. It has replaced the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, and will run until 31 March 2021. Under the EWSS, employers whose turnover has fallen 30% will get a flat-rate subsidy of up to €203 per week per employee. New firms in sectors impacted by COVID-19 will also be eligible. You can read more about the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

General help for businesses

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

Waiving of commercial rates

Rates (with some exceptions) due to local authorities are waived for a 6-month period beginning on 27 March until 27 September 2020 for businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements. Contact your Local Authority for further details.

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 31 October 2020 (extended from 30 June, 2020). This will enable businesses and their financial advisers to focus on the more pressing and immediate financial challenges.

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.

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. This was announced under the July Jobs Stimulus Package.

‘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.

The July Jobs Stimulus Package included additional measures around ‘warehousing’ of unpaid VAT and payroll tax debts. A lower interest rate of 3% per annum will apply to debt that cannot be warehoused (that is non-COVID-19 related tax debt) if you agree a phased payment arrangement to repay the debt. You must agree an arrangement with Revenue before 30 September to avail of the reduced rate.

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

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.

Restart Grant Plus Scheme

An enhanced Restart Grant now called the Restart Grant Plus Scheme operates through a system of rebates and waivers of commercial rates payments from 2019. Companies will receive a total amount equivalent to no more than their 2019 rates bill and there will be a cap per business of €25,000 (up from €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. Further payments may be available to companies which have already received funding from the original Restart Grant.

To get the grant a business must:

  • Have an annual turnover of less than €100,000 per employee and
  • Employ 250 people or less
  • Have a reduction in turnover of 25% or more due to COVID-19

You can apply online for the grant through your local authority. B&Bs must apply to Fáilte Ireland. Application details for non-rated B&Bs will be announced shortly.

You can read more about how the enhanced Restart Fund will operate or contact your local authority for more details.

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. Funding for the scheme has been increased from €2 million to €20 million. 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. Applications for the scheme opened on 14 August 2020.

The grant, worth up to €1000, is aimed at sole traders who do not pay commercial rates and, therefore, do not qualify for the Government’s Restart Grant Plus Scheme. It is intended to help with the cost of essential equipment to run your business.

The Enterprise Support Grant is available if you:

  • Were in receipt of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance and have closed your claim since 18 May 2020
  • Operated a business prior to March 2020 that closed because of the pandemic and has since reopened
  • Employ fewer than 10 people
  • Have an annual turnover of less than €1 million
  • Are PRSI and Tax compliant

The Enterprise Support Grant is not available if you:

  • Are liable for commercial rates
  • Are eligible for other COVID-19 business restart grants from other government departments, including the COVID-19 Business Restart Grant and the Childcare Reopening Grant.

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

Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2019-2024

An additional €10 million is available in funding from Enterprise Ireland’s Seed and Venture Capital Scheme. The scheme aims to help early stage start-up companies, particularly those impacted by COVID-19. You can get more information on how to apply from Enterprise Ireland.

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.

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

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 7 -10 years terms. 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.

Microenterprise loans

Microenterprise loans of up to €25,000 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 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 is 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. A number of companies have been approved under the scheme. A second call for applications opened on 31 August and will close at 3pm 28 September 2020.

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.

Package for businesses in Dublin, Kildare, Laois and Offaly

On 18 September, the Government announced further supports for businesses in Dublin. Business impacted by 25% or more fall in turnover will be able to get a 30% top-up under the Restart Grant Plus Scheme.

On 14 August, the Government announced a package for businesses in Kildare, Laois and Offaly and on 21 August further supports for were announced for businesses in Kildare.

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.

Enterprise Ireland's grants under the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) have now closed.

Food and drink industries

Restaurants and cafes will not have to apply for planning permission to operate as take-away services during the emergency period. 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. There are guidelines for reopening restaurants and cafes.

Childcare providers

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has a funding package to help with the reopening of registered centre-based providers since the 29 June. The grants will help with additional costs associated with reopening after COVID-19.

You can read more about 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.

Apprenticeships

The Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme provides a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice, to support employers to take on new apprenticeships in 2020. You can get more information from Solas about how to apply.

Life sciences sector

A new COVID Products grant scheme has been set up to support businesses producing vital medicines and medical equipment in Ireland. The scheme allows for grants of up to 50% of eligible capital investment. The scheme will be delivered through IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. Applications for aid under the scheme must be approved by 31 December 2020.

Enterprise centres

A new €12m Enterprise Centre Fund has been launched to help enterprise centres impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant funding of between €10,000 and €150,000 is available. The fund is administered by Enterprise Ireland.

Tourism and hospitality

The COVID-19 Adaptation Fund is available to tourism and hospitality businesses to help with the costs of adapting your premises or operations for re-opening. Grant funding of between €500 and €15,000 is available. You can apply online through the Fáilte Ireland Trade Portal. Closing date for applications is 8 October 2020.

Pubs, bars and nightclubs

A new €16m support package has been launched to help pubs, bars and nightclubs. Supports include:

  • A 40% top up on the Restart Grant Plus
  • Waiver of court fees and associated excise and stamp duties for the renewal of pub and other liquor licences in 2020
  • Waiver of excise duty on on-trade liquor licences on renewal in 2020

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. €2,800 in consultancy support is available under the E-Merge programme, to help cross-border businesses develop online sales and eCommerce solutions.

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, you can apply for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).

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: 21 September 2020