Midlands bailout: 20 per cent top up on restart grants for three counties

Restrictions was imposed on Kildare, Laois and Offaly over spike in Covid-19 cases

Naas, Co Kildare: Funding for tourism for Laois, Offaly and Kildare will be increased. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Naas, Co Kildare: Funding for tourism for Laois, Offaly and Kildare will be increased. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

 

The Cabinet has agreed a new package of economic supports for the three midlands counties in partial lockdown which will include a 20 per cent top up on restart grants for businesses.

Speaking at Government buildings, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said “the announcement by Government is a recognition of the impact that these restrictions are having on the people in three counties and businesses and the local economy. That is why on top of all the measures that we set out last month, we recognise there is a need to do more.”

A 20 per cent top up will increase the existing business restart grant so the maximum will now go to € 30,000.

This scheme usually involves a grant of € 4,000 to € 25,000 but businesses in the affected counties can now get access to up to an additional € 5,000 on top of this.

Mr McGrath also said there will be € 1m for local enterprises officers to promote local schemes available for firms across the three counties.

He said these measures will be applied to other areas should they also have to enter partial lockdown.

“We are very conscious that the Government decision, which was based on public health advice, does come at a cost to local people and today’s response is a recognition of that and it does provide a template and a starting point that can be used again in the event of further restrictions having to be imposed in different local areas.”

“In a scenario where restrictions need to be imposed elsewhere there will be further supports.”

Tourism

Funding will also be provided to Fáilte Ireland to conduct a promotion campaign for the three counties once the restrictions have been lifted.

The package will include grant funding for businesses, extra funding for for Fáilte Ireland for tourism promotion, and prioritised access to existing grants, loans and vouchers for counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare.

The July stimulus package announced by the Government included the restart grant to support businesses with up to 250 employees to help them with the costs associated with reopening and re-employing workers following Covid-19 closures.

The trading online voucher offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help businesses trade online.

There are also grants for enterprise centres who can apply for funding of between €10,000 and €150,000.

Discussions were continuing on the package on Thursday night and details are due to be signed-off and announced on Friday afternoon.

New public health measures came into force at midnight last Saturday and were due to last for at least two weeks after several new outbreaks of coronavirus in the midlands.

The new rules include restricting movement; restaurants and pubs serving food to close, apart from takeaway services, deliveries and limited outdoor dining; and the closure of indoor entertainment and sport venues such as cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries and bingo halls.

Visits to prisons, acute hospitals and nursing homes will be suspended except on compassionate grounds.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn has warned there is no guarantee the restrictions will be lifted after a fortnight. The National Public Health Emergency Team also warned the Government that this local lockdown could be extended to other areas.