As the Covid-19 lockdown continues, supports for affected businesses continues to grow and evolve.
Some of the schemes in place from 2020 have closed or have been amended, revised and new supports have taken their place, we will now outline these below.
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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. Past turnover is used to establish the level of support available.
You can apply to Revenue if your business premises are either closed to customers or substantially restricted in operating due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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.
COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme
The new COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) provides grants to self-employed, sole traders, partnerships and companies with a minimum annual turnover of €50,000.
In order to qualify for CBAS, you must be ineligible for CRSS or Fáilte Ireland Business Continuity Scheme and 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.
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.
Note, as of 1st January 2021 the 90% Trading Online Voucher rate has changed to 50%. Trading Online Vouchers to the value of €2,500 (50% of eligible costs up to the maximum of €2,500) are now available
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reduction rate of VAT
The VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sector decreased from 13.5% to 9% on 1 November 2020 until 31 December 2021.
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.
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