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Covid-19 - Government Measures and Initiatives – Business and Enterprise

The following is a summary of the principal measures and initiatives that the Government is implementing in response to the Covid-19 crisis.  The response to the crisis involves multiple government departments and agencies.  It addresses long and short-term financial supports, tax alleviation measures, banking and credit measures and employee supports.  

This all-of-government approach will continue to guide our actions.  

As with all sectors of our society, the situation for business and enterprise is being constantly monitored: it can be expected that measures already taken may be altered, and that additional measures will be implemented as needed. 

The following are the measures now in place: 

  1. Financial Support Measures

The Government has put in place a range of financial supports, including:

  • A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Working Capital scheme for eligible affected businesses. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured.
  • A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business. 
  • The maximum loan available from Microfinance Ireland has been increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) - are facing.
  • Local Enterprise Offices in every county will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000 (with 50:50 match funding) to support business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity.
  • A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews. 
  1. Other Supports to counter short-term shocks

For firms experiencing trading difficulties and short-term shocks, the following additional supports are now in place:

  • A First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for affected businesses, with the objective of minimising lay-offs and securing time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.
  • Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support through their local Intreo Office.
  • The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness. 
  1. Taxation Measures to alleviate short-term difficulties

The Revenue Commissioners have confirmed their flexibility in dealing with the crisis.  The following is the general advice: 

On an on-going basis, Revenue engages with viable businesses experiencing temporary cash flow or trading difficulties that affect the timely payment of tax. Revenue works very successfully with businesses that engage early to resolve their tax payment difficulties. Revenue will engage with any viable business that experiences temporary cashflow difficulties, including difficulties arising from exceptional circumstances such as the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.

Revenue has also posted specific advice for businesses experiencing trading difficulties as a result of COVID-19 including information on tax returns, the application of late payment interest, debt enforcement, tax clearance and customs.  These are the highlights:

  • Interest on late payments is suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employers) liabilities.
  • All debt enforcement activity is suspended until further notice.
  • Current tax clearance status will remain in place for all businesses over the coming months.
  • TheRelevant Contract Tax (RCT) rate review scheduled to take place this month (March) is suspended.
  • Critical pharmaceutical products and medicines will be given a Customs ‘green routing’ to facilitate uninterrupted importation and supply. 
  1. Banking and Credit Measures

All the banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers, and they may be able to provide payment holidays or emergency working capital facilities.  We are seeking to ensure that forbearance measures will not affect  credit ratings.

A deferral of up to 3-months on loan repayments will be available to many businesses.  In addition, the banks are adopting a customer-focussed approach to these businesses with a wide variety of tailored supports including extensions of credit lines, risk guarantees, and trade finance.   These supports complement the range of Government supports available through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.

The Central bank has confirmed that it will allow banks to dip into their rainy-day capital reserves to keep lending flowing. It is anticipated that this move could free up considerable additional credit for households and businesses. 

A small but important change for many businesses is the limit for contactless credit card payments has been raised from €30 to €50. 

  1. Employee support

People are the lifeblood of business.  For that reason the government has introduced general eligibility for a Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of up to €203 per week for six weeks. Employers are requested to pay affected employees the equivalent amount to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment through their normal payroll process and employers will be reimbursed by the Revenue Commissioners. The reimbursement will be transferred into the employer’s bank account by Revenue, generally on the next banking day following the submission of the payroll details. There is a streamlined and web based application process for the payment. 

  1. The EU Dimension

The Government is working with the European Commission on additional changes to State Aid de minimis rules that may be required to ensure the enterprise development agencies can respond effectively to the crisis.

A note on Social and Civic responsibility

The Government on your behalf is making efforts to support businesses and individuals who need help in the face of this crisis.  If you can, you should continue to file returns and pay outstanding taxes in the normal way.  

If you do not need additional supports, we ask you not to apply for them.  Resources are limited and must be allocated to those who need them.

The Department is now operating a Business Support Call Centre to advise on the Government supports available to businesses and enterprises. 

The number is 00 353 1 631 2002.