Almost 7,500 people avail of ‘Man in a Van’ grant

More than €6.8m paid out in Enterprise Support Grant since August

Almost 7,500 people have availed of the Government's €1,000 so-called "Man in a Van" grant, new figures from the Department of Social Protection show.

Department figures show some €6.85 million has been paid out to 7,412 claimants for the once-off Enterprise Support Grant since August. The Government extended the programme and provided another €12 million in funding in the budget in August to allow sole traders and other professions such as plumbers, carpenters, taxi drivers, tradespeople and other workers who do not pay commercial rates to get back to work. These workers are not eligible for the Restart Grant Plus, the Government's main Covid-linked business support

In order to be eligible for the Enterprise Support Grant, a self-employed person must have been receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and closed their claim on or after May 18th in order to reopen their business.

Data published by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys shows some 30 per cent of claims have been paid out to those working in the transport sector, with a further 26 per cent accounted for by tradespeople and those working in construction or linked sectors, or accounting. Workers in the beauty industry accounted for 10 per cent of approved applications.

Almost a quarter of the grants under the scheme have been paid out to micro enterprises in the Dublin region, with the next largest geographic areas for claims being Cork and Galway. Ms Humphreys said the grant would remain open for applications even as Level 5 restrictions were eased, and remained open for those who may currently be in receipt of PUP.

‘Importance of Christmas period’

“I recognise the importance of the Christmas period for Irish businesses and wish to ensure our sole traders and self-employed people can continue to provide their essential services over the festive period and beyond,” she said.

"This year has presented our sole traders and self-employed people with many great and unprecedented challenges that otherwise may have caused many to cease operations for good. It is very encouraging to see almost €7 million paid out through the grant to keep Ireland open for business and I would urge others who are still considering their business options, to check out this grant."

Applicants for the grant must be tax and PRSI compliant and have reopened a business which had been closed due to the pandemic. The firms must also employ 10 people or less, and have an annual turnover of less than €1 million. They must also not be eligible for the restart grant or other similar grants from other Government departments.

The department said the application form can be downloaded from the website and sent into an applicant's local Intreo Centre. Applications take on average two weeks to progress.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times