Government announces new €1,000 grants for small businesses

Varadkar opens scheme first to SMEs in Kildare, followed by 2,000 nationwide

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar announcing the €2 million Micro-Enterprise Assistance Fund at the K-Leisure facility in Naas, Co Kildare. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar announcing the €2 million Micro-Enterprise Assistance Fund at the K-Leisure facility in Naas, Co Kildare. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Government has announced a new grant of up to €1,000 for small businesses most affected by coronavirus restrictions to help them adapt to be able to reopen during the pandemic.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar unveiled the €2 million Micro-Enterprise Assistance Fund that will be open to businesses with fewer than 10 employees who were ineligible for existing grants to help them manage the restrictions.

Speaking at the launch of the fund at a leisure centre in Naas, Mr Varadkar said the scheme would be open first to businesses in Kildare because they had endure a national lockdown and additional local restrictions last month. It will then offered to up to 2,000 businesses nationwide.

The Tánaiste acknowledged that the restrictions applied in Co Kildare had “made life very difficult”, and that the grants were being offered as an additional financial support to businesses to help them buy equipment, personal protective equipment or signage, or for vehicle expenses.

He praised businesses in Kildare for enduring the restrictions introduced last month in response to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in meat plants and food processing factories.

“Those actions were necessary at the time. They helped turn the tide against the spread of the virus,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I know they also came with an economic impact and that businesses have been under severe pressure over the past few weeks.”

Businesses that suffered a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to Covid-19 restrictions or a downturn in trade will be eligible for the grant provided they commit to reopening and hiring and sustaining employment throughout the pandemic, the Department of Business has said.

The grant will be based on vouched additional expenditure from September 14th. Businesses must have at least one and up to 10 full-time employees to qualify for the grant scheme.

The scheme is not open to businesses already receiving the State’s Restart or Restart Plus grants or the Fáilte Ireland Restart Plus scheme or the Enterprise Support Grant for Small Business.

Martin Heydon, Fine Gael Minister of State for Research and Development and a local TD in Kildare, said the county has had to ensure the “biggest impact” from Covid-19 of any part in the country, and that the restrictions had a “seismic” effect on businesses in Kildare.

“It is an awful thing to happen to your county. As opposed to the initial lockdown when we were all in it together, when something separately happens, it affects the whole psyche of the county,” he said.

“From a reputational point of view, it does a damage that will take a little bit of time to recover from.”