Minister urges companies to avail of Brexit supports as take-up low

Government’s €300 million Brexit loan scheme has approved 132 applications so far

A total  151 applications for loans under the Brexit loan scheme have been made to date.

A total 151 applications for loans under the Brexit loan scheme have been made to date.

 

Just 10 loans totalling a combined €2.5 million have been provided to Irish companies under the Government’s €300 million Brexit loan scheme so far, new figures show.

The scheme, which is aimed at helping companies to introduce changes to their business ahead of the UK leaving the European Union, was announced in Budget 2018, with applications officially opening in late March.

A total of 151 applications for loans have been made to date under the programme, which is being managed by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. Of these, 132 have been approved for funding.

The Brexit loan scheme enables businesses with up to 499 employees to apply for loans from €25,000 to €1.5 million at an interest rate of 4 per cent or less. The working capital is provided by Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank. AIB began accepting applications only last month.

The loans can be used by companies to strengthen their product offerings, develop new market opportunities, change their organisational structures or develop new capabilities,

Border counties

Details of the progress of the scheme were revealed by Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys in response to a parliamentary question earlier this week.

She said just 12 applications for funding had come from Cavan and Monaghan, which as Border counties are particularly vulnerable to the impact of Brexit.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth described the take-up figures as “alarmingly low”. She said that with other figures showing that just 2 per cent of Enterprise Ireland client companies had availed of the agency’s Be Prepared Brexit grant it seemed that companies were not availing of supports.

Ms Humphreys said Irish businesses were engaging with bodies such as Enterprise Ireland and local enterprise offices on the issue of Brexit. However, she urged more of them to take steps to address potential challenges ahead of time.

“We can only do so much . . . there are loads of supports and I ask companies to engage,” said Ms Humphreys.

In addition to the €300 million Brexit scheme, Ms Humphreys revealed earlier this year that the Government is in talks with the European Investment Bank about a second loan scheme that would enable businesses to obtain funding for more than seven years.