COVID-19  •  Members

Philip Lee - COVID-19 – Financial supports available to Irish businesses

Philip Lee's banking and finance team provide an update on the financial supports available to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses should always engage with their financial advisers and bank or financial institution in the first instance but should be aware that there are a range of other supports available to Irish businesses affected by COVID-19, including:

1. SBCI Credit Guarantee Scheme – The Government has repurposed the Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) to provide counter-guarantees to the banks, mitigating credit risk or the need for collateral designed to assist small and medium sized enterprises (“SMEs”) by providing loans from €10,000 up to €1million for a term of up to 7 years. The Scheme is aimed at SMEs who are unable to access finance due to inadequate collateral. The government will provide counter-guarantees (currently 80%) to participating banks to mitigate the need for collateral on behalf of the SMEs. Funding to be made available via participating lenders (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank).

2. SBCI COVID-19 €200m Working Capital Scheme –Available to finance future working capital requirements and to fund innovation, change or adaptation of the business to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. To be made available from participating lenders (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank). Offers SMEs and small midcap enterprises loan amounts between €25,000 up to €1.5m (on an unsecured basis up to €500k) with a maximum interest rate of 4% for a term ranging from 1 to 3 years. It cannot be used for refinancing purposes.

3. Microfinance Ireland – Legislative amendments have been introduced to the Microenterprise Loan Fund Scheme 2015 to enable MFI offer to enable loans in excess of the existing €25,000 threshold (up to a maximum of €50k) to be provided for microenterprises where a minimum of 15% of actual or projected turnover or profit is negatively impacted by COVID-19 AND finance cannot be obtained from other finance providers. The first 6 months of the loan term are made available interest and repayment free. Only available to small businesses (sole trader, partnership or limited companies) with less than 10 full time employees and annual turnover of up to €2m.

4. Sustaining Enterprise Fund – €180m Rescue and Restructuring Scheme – available through Enterprise Ireland for viable but vulnerable firms that need to restructure or transform their businesses. The fund is operated by Enterprise Ireland, providing repayable advances of up to €800,000 as agreed with the EU under new State Aid rules.

As part of the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, Enterprise Ireland will also administer a specific Sustaining Enterprise Fund for small enterprise. This fund will provide a short-term working capital injection of up to €50,000 to eligible smaller companies to support business continuity and strengthen their ability to return to growth.

5. Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund – will focus on investment in medium and large scale enterprises in Ireland through ISIF. The fund, worth up to €2 billion, will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms. For more details on these supports, please see click here.

6. Future Growth Loan Scheme – An additional €200 million in COVID-19 funding offered by SBCI will be released in tranches, will provide longer-term loans to COVID-19 impacted businesses. Loan amounts from €100,000 up to €3million with interest rates between 3.5% and 4.5% depending on the amount of the Loan for an 8 to 10-year term.

7. Strategic Consultancy Grant – support the cost of employing strategic consultants to assist in the development and/or implementation of strategic initiatives in the SME.

8. Business Process Improvement Grant – to support short to medium term company projects that are designed to develop management capability and drive company efficiencies and business process improvements. Specific E-marketing support is available through this grant to develop and enhance your company’s capability to use the internet as an effective channel for business development.

9. Finance in focus – is a grant of up to €7,200 available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients towards third party consultants’ fees to support financial business plans relating to funding needs and potential sources of funding.

10. Business Continuity Vouchers – designed to support developing short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by way of a voucher for up to €2,500 or businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people and is available through Local Enterprise Offices.

11. 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.

12. 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. Open to all Enterprise Ireland clients and companies employing 10 or more in the manufacturing and internationally traded service sectors.

13. Trading Online Voucher Scheme – A new Trading Online Voucher Scheme is available through Local Enterprise Offices to help small and microenterprises get online and reach a new market. 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.

14. Food, drink and horticulture businesses: Bord Bia’s ‘Navigating Change’ COVID-19 Response programme offers a suite of supports for food, drink and horticulture businesses affected by COVID-19.

15. Restart Fund: A Restart Fund of €250 million for micro and small enterprises will be made available to provide a restart grant of up to €10,000 to micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019.

16. Tourism sector: In response to the COVID-19 crisis and the impact on the tourism sector, the Fáilte Ireland COVID-19 Business Support Hub is targeting its supports to respond to the most urgent challenges and threats tourism businesses are now facing.

17. Culture sector: The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has provided details of the COVID-19 supports for artists and those working in the arts sector. 

18. Lean Business Improvement Voucher – The Lean Business Continuity Voucher is available to eligible companies to access up to €2,500 in training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their businesses during the current pandemic. It is open to small, medium or large client companies of Enterprise Ireland or Údarás na Gaeltachta (including High Potential Start-ups). The voucher may be used to obtain services from approved providers.

General grant supports:

19. The full range of Enterprise IrelandIDA IrelandLocal Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

20. Commercial Rates – Commercial rates are being waived for a three-month period beginning on 27 March 2020 for businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements.

21. Training and Mentoring: Enterprise Ireland’s eiLearn is an online learning resource where you can access over 400 pieces of customised content designed for Irish SMEs. The Local Enterprise Offices have moved training programmes, workshops and networking meet-ups online, covering areas such as cash management in a crisis, leading your business through COVID-19 and advice for employers impacted by the crisis. To find out more telephone or email your Local Enterprise Office.

22. Revenue Assistance – Revenue have advised that they are open to engagement with viable businesses experiencing temporary cash flow or trading difficulties that affect the timely payment of tax. Businesses, other than SMEs, who are experiencing temporary cash flow or trading difficulties should contact the Collector-General’s office on (01) 7383663. 

23. Filing of annual returns: The Companies Registration Office has introduced changes to annual filing obligations for companies to assist companies during the COVID-19 crisis.

24. Liaising with your Bank – Each of the banks have announced that they will openly liaise and support all customers during this unprecedented crisis.  Various options are available, in particular payment breaks/loan repayment deferrals of up to 3 months and extensions of credit lines. Direct contact with your branch is advised.


Source: Philip Lee

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