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Ready for recovery: What supports are available for your business?

As normal trading resumes, now is the time to make the most of the schemes on offer

There’s plenty of help out there  to get your business back on track. Photograph: iStock

There’s plenty of help out there to get your business back on track. Photograph: iStock

 

Businesses have never had so much State-backed support to rely on. With the lifting of public health restrictions, and a return to more normalised trading conditions approaching, it’s time to make the most of what’s on offer – before it’s gone.


The biggest question you have to ask yourself is have you saved enough, says Danny Mansergh, head of benefits and career with Mercer Ireland. Photograph: iStock

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Crisis supports

Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)
CRSS was introduced to support businesses significantly affected by restrictions introduced to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The business must have been required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises. Generally, this refers to Covid-19 restrictions at Level 3, 4 or 5, but certain businesses may qualify for the support where lower levels of restrictions are in operation.

It will continue until December 31st, 2021.

Eligible businesses can make a claim to Revenue for a payment known as an Advance Credit for Trading Expenses (ACTE). An ACTE is payable for each week a business is affected by the restrictions.

The ACTE is equal to 10 per cent of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 up to €20,000, plus 5 per cent on turnover over €20,000. In the case of newer businesses, the turnover is based on the average actual weekly turnover in 2020. The ACTE is subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000.

Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS)
BRSS supports businesses significantly impacted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, even during periods when restrictions were eased.

Your business must be able to demonstrate a significant reduction in trade during the period September 1st, 2020 to August 31st, 2021.

Eligible businesses can make a claim to Revenue for an Advance Credit for Trading Expenses (ACTE) payment, and applications under the scheme may be made between September 1st, 2021 and November 30th, 2021.

The BRSS is a single payment based on a percentage of your average weekly turnover for 2019, up to a maximum payment of €15,000.

You will be eligible if your turnover is reduced by 75 per cent in the reference period (September 1st, 2020 to August 31st, 2021) compared with 2019.

Debt warehousing
Warehousing of tax debt aims to help businesses experiencing cashflow and trading difficulties due to the pandemic.

It enables you to defer paying some of your eligible tax liabilities until you are in a position financially to deal with the debt.

Interest will be applied to warehoused debt at zero per cent initially, and at 3 per cent from January 2023 to the repayment date. To qualify for warehousing, your business must have been unable to pay your tax liabilities because Covid restrictions meant your turnover was significantly reduced, or the volume of your customer orders was significantly reduced.  

Loan products

Credit Guarantee Scheme
Micro, small or medium-sized enterprises, primary producers and small mid-cap enterprises can apply for loans ranging from €10,000 to €1 million (up to €250,000 available unsecured) for terms of up to 5½ years via a scheme operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating finance providers. 

Business Loan
Sole traders, partnerships or limited companies with less than 10 employees that have been unable to secure finance from a bank can apply for a loan of up to €25,000, for a term of up to three years, from Microfinance Ireland. The loans are available with zero repayments and zero interest for the first six months. The interest rate after the first six months is a reduced interest rate of 4.5 per cent APR if the application is submitted via a Local Enterprise Office, or 5.5 per cent APR if you apply directly to Microfinance Ireland.

Working Capital Scheme
Loans ranging from €25,000 to €1.5 million are available under the Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme, with a maximum interest rate of 4 per cent and terms ranging from one to three years. Loans must be used to innovate, change or adapt your business in response to the impacts of the pandemic. Apply through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).

Future Growth Loan Scheme
Businesses, including farmers and seafood producers, can apply for longer-term loans ranging from €25,000 to €3 million (loans up to €500,000 available unsecured) for terms of seven to 10 years, to support strategic long-term investment. Apply through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). 

Grant assistance

Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid
Those in need of assistance with fixed costs such as rent, utility bills or security may be eligible for grant aid of €4,000. The payment is available to companies, self-employed, sole traders or partnerships who are not eligible for the CRSS or other direct sectoral grant schemes. To qualify for the €4,000 grant your business must have 250 employees or less, turnover of over €50,000 and be down 75 per cent or more in turnover. 

It includes a Micro Enterprise Assistance Scheme for microenterprises with turnover of between €20,000 and €49,999, who may qualify for a grant of €1,000 if they meet the other eligibility criteria. 

Applications are made through your local authority, though the business does not have to operate from a rateable premises.

Sustaining Enterprise Fund
The Sustaining Enterprise Fund aims to help businesses to rebuild after the impact of the pandemic, providing funding to stabilise cashflow, adapt operations and innovate to meet new customer needs.

The package, which is administered by Enterprise Ireland (EI), is open to manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ more than 10 people. It provides funding of between €100,000 and €800,000, with no repayments in the first three years of a five-year term. The fund includes a 50 per cent non-repayable grant element, up to a limit of €200,000.

As part of the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, EI also administers a version for small enterprises, which provides a €25,000-€50,000 short-term working capital injection to eligible smaller companies to strengthen their ability to return to growth and be trading strongly in three years’ time. Again, funding provided comprises a combination of repayable and non-repayable support, with up to 50 per cent of the funding provided being non-repayable.

Building back better

Accelerated Recovery Fund
The newest support on the block, the €31 million Accelerated Recovery Fund is designed to provide support to Irish companies seeking to adapt their operations and business models in order to remain competitive and return to growth following the effects of the pandemic.

The Accelerated Recovery Fund provides between €150,000 and €1.8 million to businesses looking to implement an accelerated recovery plan, to cover expenses such as training costs and capital costs. All funding under the Accelerated Recovery Fund must be provided to successful applicants before the end of 2021.

Digitalisation Vouchers
Digitalisation Vouchers worth €9,000 are available to help larger businesses with digital transformation. The voucher can cover the cost of technical or advisory expertise from an approved service provider to a maximum daily rate of €900. It’s intended as a short-term boost, typically taking place over a six-week period. The project must focus on internal process optimisation, such as lean/digital/automation; enhance the customer’s digital experience, or enable the business to become more data-driven.

Trading Online Voucher Scheme
For smaller businesses looking to boost their online presence, €2,500 is available through the Local Enterprise Offices as part of the Government’s National Digital Strategy. Up to two vouchers can be claimed, which must be 50 per cent co-funded by the applicant. The funding can be used for anything from adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website, to developing new apps for your customers, or to go towards the cost of subscriptions of online retail platform solutions.