The damage being wrought on businesses and their employees by Covid-19/Coronavirus is unprecedented. Here are some of the financial supports available to lessen the impact.

This is a worrying time for businesses and their employees. It is no comfort that the Irish economy was in a strong position before the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic escalated, but these fundamentals could hold the key to the recovery when it comes, and it will.

In the meantime, we have compiled a list of financial resources to help businesses keep ticking over until the crisis abates.

Bank of Ireland

For business customers Bank of Ireland is providing emergency working capital, payment flexibility on loan facilities, the provision of trade finance and foreign currency products, and the prioritisation of loan decisions.

The bank has established new processes for dealing with requests from business customers impacted by Covid-19 in order to respond to their needs as quickly as possible. It is prioritising Covid-19 related inquiries over other business as usual activities. This includes streamlining requests for payment breaks so that these can as far as is possible be delivered before the next payment falls due.

For personal customers, the bank is enabling payment breaks and flexible arrangements for mortgages and personal loans. As previously reported on ThinkBusiness, the bank has waived contactless fees for the duration of the public health emergency.

Credit Guarantee Scheme

The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the pillar banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to seven years.

Enterprise Ireland

A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business. 

Grant supports

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. 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.

Joint First Responder Support Service

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. 

Local Enterprise Offices

Local Enterprise Offices in every county will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000 (with 50:50 match funding) to support business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity.

Microfinance Ireland

The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises (sole traders and firms with up to nine employees) are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website or through your local LEO.

Revenue Commissioners

Ireland’s Revenue Commissioner has outlined actions to assist SME businesses who will be experiencing cashflow and trading problems because of the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic.

For SMEs:

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.

For subcontractors:

RCT (Relevant Contract Tax): The RCT rate review scheduled to take place in March 2020 is suspended. This process assesses the current compliance position of each subcontractor in the eRCT system and determines their correct RCT deduction rate, i.e. 0pc, 20pc or 35pc. As this process may result in a subcontractor’s RCT rate increasing due to changes in their compliance position, the review is suspended.

Subcontractors and agents are reminded that RCT rate reviews can be self-managed in ROS. Subcontractors can check if their rate should be lower and can then ‘self-review’ to get that lower deduction rate.

For importers:

Customs: Critical pharmaceutical products and medicines will be given a Customs ‘green routing’ to facilitate uninterrupted importation and supply.

Revenue said that businesses, other than SMEs, who are experiencing temporary cash flow or trading difficulties should contact the Collector-General’s office on (01) 7383663. Alternatively, these businesses can engage directly with their branch contacts in Revenue’s Large Corporates Division or Medium Enterprises Division.  

SBCI Working Capital Scheme

A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website.

Short Term Work Support

Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office, see gov.ie/en/service/c20e1b-short-time-work-support.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 18 March, 2020

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