Covid-19 : Business Support 26.03.20 – Update 8
The letter from Minister Humphreys regarding Covid-19 dated 20th March outlined a number of measures taken by the Irish Government to provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the current pandemic.
Since the Minister’s letter there has been a number of amendments made to existing measures, as well as the introduction of new measures, the most significant being the National Covid-19 Income Support Scheme which provides a temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. Other noteworthy changes included:
- workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis will receive an enhanced emergency Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203);
- the Covid-19 Illness Benefit will also be increased to €350 per week;
- Self-Employed will be eligible for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (rather than the Revenue scheme); and
- enhanced protections for people facing difficulties with their mortgages, rent or utility bills.
In light of the above changes, we have produced a summary document for businesses setting out the current key support measures available to Irish businesses during the current COVID-19 crisis. The attached reflects the published detail at the time of drafting, and may change as the current situation evolves, however we will endeavour to keep you informed of developments as they arise.
A synopsis of the information detailed within the attached is set out below, for your quick reference:
- a summary of the advice posted by the Revenue for businesses experiencing trading difficulties as a result of Covid-19 including information on tax returns, the application of late payment interest, debt enforcement, tax clearance and customs.
- Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme: replaces the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme previously announced. As discussed above, this scheme allows employers to pay their employees during the pandemic and the Government will refund up to 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax free amount of €410 per week. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax. The employer is expected to make their best efforts to maintain as close to 100% of normal income as possible for the subsidised period. The scheme will run for 12 weeks from 26 March 2020. Draft legislation governing the scheme will be published shortly. There will be severe penalties for any abuse of the scheme.
Employers must self-declare to Revenue that they have experienced significant negative economic disruption due to Covid-19, with a minimum of 25% decline in turnover, and an inability to pay normal wages and other outgoings, in accordance with guidance to be issued by Revenue.
- Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment: this payment is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme will pay €350 per week and will be in place for the duration of the crisis.
- Covid-19 Illness Benefit: enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week is paid to any worker who is told to self-isolate by a doctor or has been diagnosed with Covid-19 by a doctor. It will be paid for a maximum of 2 weeks where a person is self-isolating and for a maximum of 10 weeks if a person has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
- Short Time Work Support: is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit and is an income support payment for employee’s who have been temporarily placed on a shorter working week. The payment is made in respect of the employee’s regular salary for the days that they are no longer working. For example, if an employee’s working week has been reduced from a 5 day work pattern to a 3 day work pattern, the employee can receive support for the other 2 days. Short-time Work Support is paid for a maximum of 234 days. An employee’s entitlement will depend on the number of social insurance contributions they have made.
- SME Credit Guarantee Scheme: the Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Eligibility criteria apply;
- Micro Finance Ireland: Microenterprises can access Covid-19 loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland. The terms include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 6.8% and 7.8%. Businesses can apply through their Local Enterprise Office or directly at microfinanceireland.ie. Eligibility criteria apply.
- SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme: the €200m SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie. Eligibility criteria apply.
- Enterprise Ireland Rescue and Restructuring Scheme: a €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme is available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
- The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
- The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.
- A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews.
- In addition to their current range of business supports to microenterprises, LEOs can also provide business continuity vouchers from €2,500 to assist in preparing any business continuity issues that arise in the current challenging environment.
- Enterprise Ireland has a number of supports available to help businesses mitigate the impact of Covid-19. Their Covid-19 Business Response Plan outlines the Covid-19 supports available.
Business Rates Relief:
- The government has agreed support for businesses impacted by Covid-19 through a three month commercial rates deferral.
- Self-employed workers are eligible for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment as discussed above;
Other advice on insurance, banking, rent etc.: As detailed within the attached.