Help is at hand: the key supports for Covid-hit businesses

Times may be grim but financial assistance may be available

A range of supports are available for businesses hit by the Covid crisis.

A range of supports are available for businesses hit by the Covid crisis.

 

With the State going into lockdown again, times are grim for workers and businesses. But support is at hand for those affected financially by Covid-19. Some of these supports are available to all while others are industry specific.

The two best-known financial supports are the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) .

FINANCIAL SUPPORTS

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)

The EWSS, which recently replaced the temporary wage subsidy scheme, provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible workers on the payroll and gross pay.

The subsidy is based on an employee’s gross weekly wage and a reduced rate of employers’ PRSI of 0.5 per cent is charged on wages paid that are eligible.

To avail of the scheme, which is due to run until March 31st, 2021, employers must possess valid tax clearance.

PUP

PUP is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their job since the start of the pandemic in mid-March with, applications accepted until the end of the year.

The payment, which is made in arrears, provides €350 for those who earned €400 or more a week. For those who earned between €300 to €399, the rate of pay is €300, while those on between €200 and €299 will take home €250 per week. Anyone earning less that this previously receives €203, the same rate as Jobseeker’s Benefit.

COVID FUNDS, LOANS AND GRANTS

Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme

The scheme provides up to €2 billion in lending with loans ranging from €10,000 to €1 million for terms of up to five and a half years.

Covid-19 Business Loans

Loans of between €5,000 and €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and interest for the first six months. Loan terms are typically up to three years and there are no fees or charges.

Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme

The scheme supports loans from €25,00 up to €1.5 million with a maximum interest rate of 4 per cent.

Future Growth Loan Scheme

Up to €800 million of loans to support strategic long-term investment are available for terms of between seven and 10 years.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund

This €180 million fund is for companies with 10 or more employees operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector. The Enterprise Ireland-managed fund provides between €100,000 and €800,000 to eligible companies and includes a 50 per cent non-repayable grant element.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund for Small Enterprise

Another EI-managed fund which provides a short-term capital injection of up to €50,000 for smaller companies to support business continuity.

Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund

This €2 billion fund makes capital available to large- and medium-sized enterprises on commercial terms.

Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant

This grant, which is worth up to €5,000, is designed to help companies develop a financial plan. It is aimed at EI clients and those manufacturing or internationally traded companies that employ 10 or more people.

RATES WAIVER AND TAX MEASURES

Commercial rates waiver

With limited exceptions, all businesses will be granted a waiver to the end of December.

‘Warehousing’ of deferred tax debts

The scheme ‘warehouses’ VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts associated with the Covid-19 crisis.

Reduction in the standard rate of VAT

A six-month reduction in the standard rate of VAT from 23 per cent to 21 per cent will apply, effective from September. Also, a VAT rate reduction from 13.5 per cent to 9 per cent from November for the hospitality and tourism sector.

Stay and Spend incentive

The Stay and Spend scheme will incentivise taxpayers to support domestic providers of accommodation and/or food during the off-season through tax credits.

SECTOR-SPECIFIC SUPPORTS

Food, drink and horticulture sector

Bord Bia’s ‘Navigating Change’ Covid-19 Response programme offers a suite of supports for food, drink and horticulture businesses.

Tourism sector

The Fáilte Ireland Covid-19 Business Support Hub includes a €26 million fund to support tourism and hospitality businesses to re-open safely.

Culture sector

New supports to aid employment in the creative industries include the Live Performance Support Scheme and the Music Stimulus Package.