The COVID-19 crisis is presenting immediate and severe financial challenges for businesses.  A number of supports are available for business owners to help them and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an earlier blog we have discussed the temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Now,the Government has introduced a number of measures to assist businesses in reducing their operational costs, as follows:

  1. Deferral of Commercial Rates – Rates due to Local Authorities from the most immediately impacted businesses (retail, hospitality, leisure and childcare sectors) are deferred until the end of May.
  2. Annual Returns and Tax Returns – All 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 the 30th June 2020. This will enable businesses and their Financial Advisors to focus on the more pressing and immediate financial challenges ahead as a consequence of the pandemic.
  3. €450m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (the SBCI) Working Capital Scheme (the “Working Capital Scheme”) – the Working Capital Scheme is for eligible businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000.00 unsecured.  The Working Capital Scheme is offered by the SBCI in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and is supported the InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instrument.

The loans will be available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank and approval is subject to Bank’s credit policies and procedures.  These loans are granted to facilitate fund innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and to assist future working capital requirements of the business.

  1. Business Continuity Voucher - the Local Enterprise Office Business Continuity Voucher is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to fifty people. The voucher is worth up to €2,500.00 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 pandemic.  There is a limit of one voucher per company in general, although Enterprise Ireland may offer further vouchers where a company has more than one distinct operation.
  2. €2m COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme (the Online Retail Scheme) – This scheme provides a grant for retail companies with greater than ten employees to develop a more competitive online offering. The Online Retail Scheme has a budget of €2m.  Successful applicants will receive funding support of up to 80% of project costs, with a maximum grant of €40,000.00.  The Online Retail Scheme will be administered by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Department. 
  3. Amendments to Planning and Planning Regulations – These amendments temporarily allow restaurants to operate as take-aways whereby members of the public can order food for collection for the consumption off premises or have food delivered for consumption off premises without being required to obtain Change of Use planning permission to operate as take-aways.
  4. €200m Package for Enterprise supports including a rescue and restructuring scheme (package for enterprise supports) – The package for Enterprise support is available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable for viable firms that need to re-structure or transform their businesses.

Further supports are outlined Here.

In addition to the above, businesses are reminded to check if their insurance policy covers them for an interruption in their business, or a temporary business closure caused by COVID-19.

 Revenue has also issued updated advice to small and medium enterprises experiencing cash flow difficulties arising from COVID-19.  This includes information on Tax Returns, late payment interest, debt enforcement and tax clearance.

We hope you found this summary helpful. 

05 May 2020

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