Welcome to Digital Business Ireland's dedicated page to help and support you during the COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be updated as new information comes on stream from government and state bodies. Please use the supports provided.

 

Supports to enhance your online presence


July Stimulus Package

A wide range of supports were announced for SMEs in the July Stimulus Plan. These represent a combination of expansion and extension of existing measures as well as some new schemes. In addition, there are some targeted supports for SMEs seeking to break into the digital space.

Sectoral interventions - online and digital

The July Stimulus in effect implements the previously announced expansions to existing schemes. Businesses seeking to develop their online presence will be enabled to do so through a further funding call of the Online Retail Scheme of €5.5 million through Enterprise Ireland as well as a €20 million expansion of the Online Trading Voucher Scheme from the Local Enterprise Offices.

Alongside the July Stimulus the Government recommitted itself to raise infrastructure spending by €1 billion in 2021, which will include investments in broadband. Furthermore, in hinting at what is to come in the National Economic Plan in October, the Government underlined that seizing opportunities from the digital transition and preparing for the next phase of technological transformation will be key concerns.

Recovery grants and loans for business

The Restart Grant for Enterprises is being extended to a broader base of SMEs and expanded by €300 million, bringing the total funding of the Restart Grant to €550 million. The payment businesses are eligible to receive is being raised to €25,000. Additional payments may be available to firms that have already received support in the past with some non-rated businesses previously excluded from the scheme, now eligible.

Micro and small enterprises will be able to avail of €55 million in enterprise investment measures through additional resources for MicroFinance Ireland and Local Enterprise Offices. In cooperation with European Investment Bank Group, the Future Growth Loan Scheme is being expanded from €200 million to €500 million and will be made available to businesses with up to 499 employees. Meanwhile, as part of the previously announced Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme worth €2 billion, the Government will guarantee 80% on a wide range of credit products from €10,000 to €1 million for up to 6 years.

 

Support for maintaining and expanding staff

As part of its focus on safeguarding and generating jobs, the Government is providing incentives to businesses to keep staff and take on new employees. From September, a new Employment Wage Support Scheme will gradually replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and run until April 2021. Employers whose turnover has fallen 30%, will receive a flat-rate subsidy of €203 per employee including seasonal workers and new employees. New businesses operating in affected sectors will also be eligible. The Scheme is expected to support around 350,000 jobs into the beginning of 2021.  Employers will be paid €2,000 for every apprentice they hire in 2020 and 8,000 jobs are to be created through the JobsPlus scheme under which €7,500 will be available over two years for employers to hire someone under the age of 30 who is on the Live Register or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

 

 

Taxation

In the realm of taxation, the Government is taking several steps to support businesses. To relieve cash-flow pressures on previously profitable companies, an immediate refund of some or all corporation tax paid will be made available through permitting the early carry-back of trading losses. Self-employed persons who will also make a loss this year after making a profit last year will be able to reclaim a portion of their 2019 tax. Many businesses will also benefit from the reduction of the standard rate of VAT from 23% to 21% starting from the beginning of September for a six-month period. Furthermore, the commercial rates waiver for almost all companies has been extended by three months until the end of September 2020. The Government will also pass legislation to allow businesses affected by Covid-19 to delay payment of their PAYE and VAT debts in part of in full for a set period with no interest or penalties, as part of the previously announced warehousing of tax liabilities. In addition, the interest rate on agreed repayments of tax debt will be reduced to 3% for agreements reached before 30 September 2020.

 

Future-facing investments

Looking towards the future, the Government is to launch a Green Enterprise Fund worth €10 million for businesses engaged in green research as well as development and innovation, capital investment and capacity building that are part of companies’ adaptation to a green economy. In the short term, €20 million will be provided to SMEs to acquire staff, software and IT systems to adapt to the new relationship with the UK from January 2021. More broadly, the Government will expand the Enterprise Ireland Sustaining Enterprise Fund worth €180 million, which will now include direct grants to viable businesses. Enterprise Ireland’s funds for investment in the Seed and Venture Capital Sector will also be topped-up by €10 million.

 

 

 

 

New Government Business Supports

Announced 15th May

€250m Restart Grant launched

Businesses whose trading has been severely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic can now apply for funding from the Government's €250m Restart Grant scheme.

The fund will offer grants worth between €2,000 and €10,000 to qualifying firms, with those reopening under the first two phases of the official roadmap and those who have remained open throughout to be prioritised.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

 

Announced - 2nd May

Measures Amount Targets
A three month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses (beginning on 27 March) €2 billion All Businesses
Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which will make capital available on commercial terms €2 billion Medium & Large Enterprises
COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme for terms ranging from 3 months to 6 years, which will be below market interest rates €2 billion SMEs
Provision of a Restart Fund €250 million Micro & Small enterprises

 

Further Supports: 

The ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of twelve months after recommencement of trading during which time there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt
Extension of bank loan payment breaks for businesses and households to 6 months for those requiring assistance
A commitment to local authorities to make up the rates shortfall, so that local authorities can continue provide full services to the public

 

 

Here are some practical steps you can take to safeguard your business during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Talk to your bank

Collectively, the banks have announced they will offer flexibility to their customers, and have agreed to implement a payment break up to three months for business and personal customers affected by Covid-19, to be followed by ongoing reviews depending on the scale and extent of the situation. Any customer who avails of this support will not see their credit rating adversely impacted. For further information if you a customer of:

    • AIB please click here
    • Bank of Ireland please click here
    • Ulster Bank please click here
    • PTSB please click here
    • EBS please click here
    • KBC Bank please click here
  • Manage your cashflow. Look for scope to:
    • Lower variable costs
    • Delay discretionary spend
    • Extend your payables
    • Expedite your receivables
    • Explore supply chain financing options 
  • Check if your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by COVID-19
  • Avail of Government support to meet your business’ working capital needs
Funding Lines Amount Requirements             
Government support for payment of employee salaries  70 per cent of the salaries of retained workers whose employer is struggling as a result of the crisisThe salary level will be set at 70 per cent of the average wage of €38,000, or €410 per week. The scheme will provide support on incomes up to €76,000 or twice average earnings.  It will be capped at net €350 for incomes between €38,000 and €76,000

 

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 RevenueThe employer is expected to make best efforts to maintain as close to 100% of normal income as possible for the subsidised period

There will be severe penalties for any abuse of the scheme

This scheme is open to impacted employers in all sectors.

The employee must have been on the payroll in February 2020.

Apply here

Credit Guarantee Scheme Supports loans up to €1 million for up to 7 yearsApplications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank SMEs may be eligible if they:Are involved in a commercial activity

Are a sole trader, partnership, franchise, co-operative or limited company

In the lender’s opinion have a viable business proposal

Are able to repay the facility

MicroFinance Ireland Microenterprises can access COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000.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

Any business (Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company) with less than 10 employees and annual turnover of up to €2mNot in a position to avail of finance from Banks and other commercial lending providers

15% of actual or projected turnover or profit is negatively impacted by COVID-19

Apply here

SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme Maximum loan size of €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) and the maximum interest rate will be 4%Applications can be made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie Summary of Excluded ActivitiesFinance of specific export operations, or finance contingent upon the use of domestic over imported products. In particular, it should not apply to financing the establishment and operation of a distribution network in other States, or current expenditure linked to the export activity.

Finance of pure real estate development activity

Finance of activities constituting pure financial transactions (e.g. purchase of shares)

Loans to undertakings in difficulty

Finance of activities forbidden by national or EU law

Agriculture (see specific SBCI Agricultural Investment Loan product), aquaculture and fisheries loans

Refinance to reschedule existing loan or completed project (see specific product for Refinance Of Exiting Banks)

Aid for the acquisition of road freight transport vehicles by undertakings performing road freight transport for hire or reward

Please refer to the link above for comprehensive detail on specific exclusions

Apply here

Enterprise Ireland Rescue and Restructuring Scheme This Scheme is for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business TBD
Local Enterprise Office Business Continuity Voucher This Voucher provides up to €2,500 to assist any business facing continuity issues that arise in the current challenging environment TBD
Business Continuity Planning The Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation has provided a checklist of preparatory actions for businesses in responding to COVID-19 and other relevant information Details can be found here
Enterprise Ireland Finance in Focus Grant  Up tp €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews Applicants must be a client of Enterprise Ireland or Údarás na Gaeltachta and;An SME or Large company that meets the requirements of the Industrial Development Act 1986 as amended

Actively trading in eligible manufacturing or internationally traded service activities

Have been through a Client Development Model with EI and a Finance Review has been completed by an external consultant

Potentially Covid19 exposed (i.e. supply chain, currency, transport and logistics, sales).

Seeking to raise capital from the market or utilising internal resources

Willing to commit management time to work with third party consultants to develop a business plan with supporting financial information.

Have a positive De Minimis balance to cover the approved grant amount

Further details are available here

 

Business Rates

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, John-Paul Phelan, yesterday secured Cabinet approval for the introduction of a two month break in commercial rates payments for businesses across the country with a  provision to review same at the end of this period. Further details to follow.

 

Revenue

If you have concerns about your ability to pay your tax liabilities speak to the Revenue Commissioners.

Tax Returns Businesses experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties should continue to send in tax returns on time
Application of Interest The application of interest on late payments is suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employers) liabilities
Debt Enforcement All debt enforcement activity is suspended until further notice
Tax Clearance Current tax clearance status will remain in place for all businesses over the coming months
RCT (Relevant Contract Tax) The RCT rate review scheduled to take place in March 2020 is suspended
Customs Critical pharmaceutical products and medicines will be given a Customs ‘green routing’ to facilitate uninterrupted importation and supply
Local Property Tax Deferral of collection of Local Property Tax due to be collected on 21March until 21 May
Credit Card Duty The duty of €30 per year per credit card account will now be levied on 1 July, three months after the legislated date of 1 April

 

Companies Registration Office

The Registrar of Companies has decided that all annual returns due to be filed by companies between now and June 30, 2020 will be deemed to have been filed on time if all elements of the annual return are completed and filed by that date.

 

Employee Support

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment A new social welfare payment is available to employees and self-employed people who are unemployed or who have their hours of work reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes people who have been put on part-time or casual work The support pays a flat rate of €350 per week for a six-week period. Applications can be made using this one-page application form

 

Support for Renters

  • Government is introducing legislation to prevent both the termination of residential tenancies and any rent increases for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis
  • The banks have also said they will support buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID 19 with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to three months – so they can in turn offer forbearance to their tenants
  • Rent Supplement is also available as a short-term income support to those in the private rented sector who are experiencing difficulty paying their rent

 

Support for Utility Bills

 

  • Moratorium on disconnections of domestic customers for non-payment to the gas and electricity suppliers

 

New Public Health Measures

The Cabinet also formally approved new public health measures recommended by NPHET at its meeting this morning. They include:

  • Physical distancing restrictions are being extended until Sunday 29th April
  • People should stay home as much as possible, work from home if they can, and only leave home to go to work if there is no alternative
  • Only go to the shops for essential supplies, for medical or dental appointments, to care for others or to take physical exercise
  • Social events or gatherings involving more than 4 people that have not already been cancelled should be cancelled
  • Non-essential indoor visits to other people’s homes should be avoided.  Social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be no more than 4, unless from the same household
  • No unnecessary travel should take place within the country or overseas

 

Useful resources

HSE Information on the Coronavirus

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) advice and guidance including guidance for workers dealing with the general public

Workplace Protection & Improvement Guide - DBEI

NSAI Retail Guide re: COVID-19