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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 408-434
 Header Item Foreign Direct Investment
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Enterprise Ireland
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Print Media
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Tourism Policy
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Small and Medium Enterprises
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Job Losses
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Health and Safety Authority
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate

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Written Answers Nos. 408-434

Foreign Direct Investment

 408. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the most recent foreign direct investment jobs by county for the year ending December 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10496/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The IDA’s performance for 2019 has shown that Ireland continued to perform very strongly in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). By the end of last year, total employment in the Agency's client companies stood at over 245,000. Every region in Ireland has seen FDI-driven employment gains and there are now over 138,000 people employed across 724 firms in IDA client companies located outside of Dublin. 57% of all IDA client-supported jobs, in fact, are now located outside the capital.

  The following table outlines the total number of jobs in IDA Ireland client companies by county for 2019.

County 2019
Carlow 1,257
Cavan 1,153
Clare 7,146
Cork 40,671
Donegal 3,776
Dublin 106,466
Galway 21,071
Kerry 2,176
Kildare 8,872
Kilkenny 655
Laois 121
Leitrim 948
Limerick 12,749
Longford 1,210
Louth 4,428
Mayo 4,941
Meath 1,904
Monaghan 318
Offaly 1,192
Roscommon 1,288
Sligo 2,268
Tipperary North Riding 216
Tipperary South Riding 3,624
Waterford 7,138
Westmeath 3,686
Wexford 3,163
Wicklow 2,659
Total Employment 245,096

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 409. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if business support policies will be reviewed to provide greater help to microbusinesses that contribute to the national economy on a smaller scale but to the local community on a bigger scale than many other businesses; if she will give further consideration to offering more direct grants for businesses to stay afloat until the end of the Covid-19 emergency as opposed to grants for hiring business consultants; if she will give consideration to offering restart grants to cover the additional costs for trading during the Covid-19 emergency, such as PPE, sanitiser and screens; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10589/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. The launch of the €250m Restart Grant by Government on the 22 May last is an example of how I am continually looking at the most appropriate mechanisms to help businesses as we reopen our economy. The Restart Grant provide a direct payment to local businesses of between €2,000 to €10,000 to help them meet the costs of reopening.

  The range of supports available from my Department and across Government are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  The full range of Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

  In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including micro-enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

  The Covid-19 Loan, available from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), was introduced as a support to microenterprises to help them access funding arising from the Covid-19 crisis and is working successfully.  In 2.5 months, MFI has approved Covid-19 loans of over €14.3 million, which is more than double the value of total loans approved for the entire year in 2019.

  These loans are available for eligible microenterprises responding to Covid-19-related difficulties, the negative impact of which must be a minimum of 15% of actual or projected income or profit. Loans up to €50,000 are available with terms that include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid ver the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period.

  An interest rate to 4.5% applies on the Covid-19 loans provided by MFI.  This reduced rate is available to all micro-enterprises where the application is made through the Local Enterprise Network or referred by a bank or Local Development Committees. The new rate for direct applications to MFI is reduced to 5.5%. As these loans are available interest free for the first six months, the net effect is to further reduce the net interest rate payable over the period of the loan.

  The Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme is offered in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and is supported by the InnovFin SME Guarantee facility. The scheme is operated by the SBCI.

  It currently makes available a fund of up to €200 million to eligible businesses that have been negatively affected by impacts arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 to enable those businesses to innovate, change or adapt in response to the current business environment. Following a further announcement, work is now under way on a significant expansion to this Scheme.

  The scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees) negatively impacted by Covid-19. Loans under the scheme range from €25,000 to €1.5m and are for periods of up to three years. The maximum interest rate under the scheme is 4% and loans of up to €500,000 are available unsecured.

  The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is funded by the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment and delivered nationwide in partnership with my Department, Enterprise Ireland and the 31 Local Enterprise Offices. There has been a tremendous demand for the scheme from enterprises across the country since its expansion and I am pleased that it provides a grant of up to €2,500 to cover up to 90% of the cost for a business going online.

  On the 8th of June I announced additional funding of €14.2m for the Scheme bringing the total funding allocation in 2020 to €19.8m. This additional funding will allow LEOs to approve additional vouchers to successful applicants. The Scheme offers skills training, mentoring and financial support of up to €2,500 to help small and micro-businesses to develop their ecommerce capability. New flexibilities to the Scheme were introduced in April including reducing the requirement for co-funding from 50% to 10% and allowing businesses to apply for a second voucher of up to €2,500 where they have successfully utilised their first one. There has been a positive response to these changes and significant uptake of the Scheme.

  Continued support for high-potential start-ups and the wider entrepreneurship base remains critically important to underpinning the growth and recovery of Irish enterprise. Through my agency’s support for High Potential Start-Ups, Seed and Venture Capital funding, the Competitive Start Fund and New Frontiers Programme, Enterprise Ireland continues to deliver strong support for entrepreneurs and early stage companies.

  Ongoing activities in this area include a call for proposals under the Competitive Start Fund in March of this year, the purpose of which is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capacity to succeed in global markets. Enterprise Ireland continues to provide equity investment of up to €800,000 on a co-funded basis, to innovation-led high potential start-ups that are developing and commercialising new or substantially improved technologies, products or services. In addition, the Enterprise Ireland is currently engaged in the second call of its Seed and Venture Capital Scheme (2019-2024), targeting funds investing into companies emerging from the third-level research organisations (Spin Outs).

  Enterprise Ireland has launched liquidity funding supports for companies who have been impacted by COVID- 19, either through a reduction in turnover/profit or a significant increase in costs. The purpose of this funding is to enable the company to firstly, stabilise, and then, to implement a business sustainment plan, leading to a return to viability and contributing to the recovery of the Irish economy. Support of up to €800,000 can be provided to companies, with different levels of support and funding instruments available, which are targeted at companies at different stages of development and growth (e.g. established companies, start-ups and small enterprises).

  I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to work with my colleagues across Government and with all stakeholders, to examine all such appropriate business supports to assist microbusinesses impacted by Covid-19.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 410. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a trade credit support scheme is being considered; if so, the estimated cost of implementing such a scheme; if primary legislation is required to implement the proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10672/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I am aware of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on all businesses and this includes the private trade credit insurance market.

  As a result of the significant economic shock, there is increased uncertainty regarding the financial performance of many companies in our economy. I understand that the trade credit insurance companies have had to adjust their coverage in response to this adverse economic environment.

  In response the Government has already introduced a range of measures and supports to the economy in order to sustain and over time facilitate a return to a more normal trading environment. This in turn should permit the trade credit market to reconsider the risk environment and adjust their coverage as appropriate.

  My Department continues to consider further options for appropriate and effective assistance to businesses and this includes the possibility of supports to ensure the continued provision of credit insurance and the appropriate mechanism to do so.

  My officials are engaging with the private trade credit insurance providers to assess the impact of the current crisis on trade credit insurance and the scale of the consequential impact on Irish businesses, and whether specific support can be provided to this market and how this could complement other general supports provided by the Government.

  Any support will need to be considered alongside these other available options, which may be capable of achieving an effective outcome and minimising the risk exposure to public funds.

  This is an ongoing process.

Enterprise Ireland

 411. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if applicants will be accepted to the GradStart programme by a business (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10676/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys To apply for GradStart a company needs to be a client of either Enterprise Ireland (EI), the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) or Údarás na Gaeltachta. Applications from EI clients are processed by that agency, LEO clients by their Local Enterprise office and Údarás clients would apply directly to Údarás na Gaeltachta.

  There is not requirement in the terms and conditions of the grant that stipulates that the graduate must have a manufacturing/export qualification, so a graduate with an engineering qualification is eligible for GradStart. GradStart is open to graduates and postgraduates that fulfil the following criteria:

  - Seeking graduate entry level positions;

  - Have a recognised qualification not less than Level 6 on the National Vocational Qualifications Framework, or recognised equivalent, or a postgraduate degree not less than Level 9 on the National Vocational Qualifications Framework, or recognised equivalent;

- Have a valid work permit to work in Ireland (if required) for the duration of the 24-month placement; OR

  - Hold a 1-year working visa with the option to renew the visa to allow completion of the 2-year contract – neither the hiring company nor Enterprise Ireland will have any liability or responsibility should the graduate be unable to renew their working visa.

  - Have graduated within the last four years i.e. 2016; 2017; 2018 or 2019.

  - Can provide proof of language proficiency where required by hiring company.

  Ineligible graduates:

  - Graduates who cannot provide evidence of having reached the required academic standard on the National Vocational Qualifications Framework or demonstrate equivalence;

  - Graduates who do not, at time of application, have a valid work permit to work in Ireland;

  - Graduates who are more than four years post-graduation i.e. graduated prior to 2016;

  - Graduates recruited or on the company payroll prior to the grant support date, graduates transferred from another location of the company to the grant aided company location; graduates performing a sales or marketing role for the grantee company; graduates supported by the Jobs Plus Programme administered by the Department of Social Protection.

  - Graduates who cannot provide proof of language proficiency (where required by hiring company).

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 412. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys further to Parliamentary Question No. 420 of 27 May 2020, the way in which mobile businesses and tradespersons have been better placed to continue to trade as having done so would have been in direct contravention of the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19; her views on whether they should have continued to trade despite the restrictions; if not, the supports that will be made available for such business; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10682/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID19 global pandemic has resulted in a swiftly evolving landscape for enterprises. The Government has and will continue to use all available tools at its disposal to support businesses and ensure their survival. In that context, I will keep the supports provided under review and continue to support enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them.

  Tradespersons and mobile businesses are aware of the need to follow all COVID19 procedures as advised by the HSE and Government. The Government specifically provided for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to be available for self-employed during the period of the lockdown. However, it is the case that during the period of such restrictions there were some exceptions to the COVID19 emergency restrictions in particular in the case of a household emergency and to address safety issues occurring in the home such as roof repairs, electrical repairs and plumbing emergencies provided each tradesperson adheres to the appropriate safeguards in terms of maintaining social distancing, handwashing, use of appropriate PPE and the necessity to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in and around working areas.

  Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 413. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if each application to the businesses continuity voucher scheme for businesses impacted by Covid-19 will be fully honoured; the amount of funds granted under the scheme to date against the original allocation; the number of applications to date; the number approved and not approved, respectively; the value of approved applications; the number of successful applicants that have and have not, respectively, received funding to date; and if additional funding will be required to meet the current demand for the scheme. [10686/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Business Continuity Voucher scheme was launched on 26th March last as part of the suite of Covid 19 business supports. The purpose of the scheme was to provide expert guidance and advice to SMEs employing up 50 people and enable business owners make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions could be taken at the outset of this crisis, to protect staff and sales and eventually help the business recover.

  The scheme was a resounding success in terms of uptake, the product of it being an appropriate support for that point in time. The Local Enterprise Offices have thus far approved 9,389 Business Continuity Vouchers to the value of almost €20.6m and had received 14,829 applications by the closing date. The LEOs will continue to work with existing applicants and recipients of BCV vouchers and their subsequent business continuity plans. The awarding and processing of vouchers under the BCV scheme will naturally taper off in the coming weeks as the Local Enterprise Offices process the outstanding applications.

  The payment of the Business Continuity Voucher is dependent on the project being finished, invoice and project report submitted to LEO, with the LEO subsequently completing  due diligence checks and processing by Local Authority Finance Units. Details on the take-up of the Vouchers is available on my Department's website at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Take-up-of-DBEI-COVID-19-Business-Supports.html.

  Clearly the level of demand both for the scheme and the consequent budget drawdown has been unprecedented, with approvals to date to the value of €20.6m representing a substantial portion of the existing LEO budget for 2020. To date, in general, the new Covid-19 business support Schemes have been supported through both a reprioritisation of my Department's and our development agencies budgets for 2020 and through securing additional funding or commitments to fund for specific schemes. This is a continually evolving situation and my Department is continually reviewing take-up of schemes and the need for reallocations or additional budgets.

  Business Continuity Voucher applicants who have been unsuccessful have been offered a range of other supports that they can avail of such as the Local Enterprise Office Mentor Programme. This programme is designed to enable clients to work with an experienced mentor to identify solutions to areas of exposure within their business. With advice and guidance from their mentor, clients develop strategies that are more robust, which address business planning issues and maximise potential business opportunities. These mentoring services are now free of charge.

  Furthermore, Local Enterprise Offices have moved training programmes, workshops and networking meet-ups online, covering areas such as cash management in a crisis, leading your business through COVID-19 and advice for employers impacted by the crisis. Training programmes are offered completely free of charge or there is a nominal fee and places can be booked online, through this link: https://www.localenterprise.ie/Fingal/Training-Events/Online-Bookings/.

  As the reopening of the economy proceeds, more and more businesses are transitioning from the planning to the implementation phase as we progress through the remaining stages of the Government Roadmap. It is in this context that the Business Continuity Voucher is being phased out and is now closed to new applicants. In recognition of this new stage the new €250m Restart Grant was introduced to assist micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 414. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if each application to the online retail scheme for businesses impacted by Covid-19 will be fully honoured; the amount of funding granted under the scheme to date against the original allocation; the number of applications to date; the number approved and not approved, respectively; the value of approved applications; the number of successful applicants that have and have not, respectively, received funding to date; if additional funding will be required to meet the current demand for the scheme; and if there will be another call for applications under the scheme. [10687/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys As Chair of the Retail Consultation Forum, I am acutely aware that Covid-19 has brought particular challenges for retailers - large and small, across the country. Trading online is a very important route for retail businesses to grow and improve their business in the current crisis and will be an important element in their recovery over the longer term.

  The objective of the €2 million Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme - a competitive scheme, administered on my Department's behalf by Enterprise Ireland, is to support companies in the indigenous retail sector who have already started an online journey, to further enhance and strengthen their online presence, which will have the most immediate impact enabling them to respond to both domestic and international consumer demand with a competitive online offer.

  My Department proposed this Scheme in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability. Applicant companies must be an indigenous retailer, employing 10 or more people, have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media), and have a retail outlet through which they derive the majority of their revenue. Successful applicants will be awarded funding to support a maximum of 80% of the project costs. Grants ranging from €10,000 to €40,000 will be awarded under the competitive scheme.

  This Scheme is not about taking the first steps; it is about raising the bar, in an informed, planned and strategic way. Further details on this Scheme are available at https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/online-retail/online-retail-scheme/online-retail-scheme.html.

  The Scheme closed for applications at 3pm on 27 May 2020 and eligible applications are currently under assessment by Enterprise Ireland against the criteria specified in the Scheme. Once the assessment is complete I will be in a position to announce the successful applicants and the funding that has been allocated to them under this Call of the Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme.

  The Deputy may be aware that I recently announced, with Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, a major expansion of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to help small and micro enterprises, with up to 10 employees, including those in the retail sector, to get online quickly.

  The Trading Online Voucher Scheme is being expanded by €14.2m after the Local Enterprise Offices received 3 years’ worth of applications in 3 months following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland. Following a previous expansion of the Scheme in early April, total additional funding for the Scheme is now almost €20m in 2020.

  Under the Scheme, small businesses can claim up to €5,000 in two vouchers worth €2,500 each. The Scheme also facilitates subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions to quickly establish a retailing presence online.

  I am committed to supporting the needs of the retail sector in developing their online capability and enhancing their competitiveness and will continue to review supports in this particular area, working with the industry through the Retail Consultation Forum which I chair.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 415. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will consider matters raised in correspondence (details supplied); and the supports available to this sector from her Department. [10758/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Government has introduced a €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs. Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  There are a number of grant and loan schemes which have been put in place to assist businesses. The Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees) is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and is supported by the InnovFin SME Guarantee facility.

  The Future Growth Loan Scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps currently makes loans available with a term of 8-10 years and is operated by (SBCI) through participating lenders. The Covid-19 Loan, available from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), supports microenterprises access funding arising from the Covid-19 crisis. The new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to aid SMEs is a further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme already available. The Scheme will be available to all SME sectors, including primary producers. The implementation of this Scheme will require primary legislation, the drafting of which has commenced.

  In addition to this new package of liquidity measures, the full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

  I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to work with my colleagues across Government and with all stakeholders, to examine all such appropriate business supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19. In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any further mechanisms allowable under the EU’s state aid framework.

Print Media

 416. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the supports her Department is working on to assist the provincial newspaper sector; and if her attention has been drawn to the extreme financial strain which many publications are currently experiencing. [10760/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities.

  These supports are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  The full range of Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

  In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including micro-enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

  The Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme is offered in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and is supported by the InnovFin SME Guarantee facility. The scheme is operated by the SBCI. It currently makes available a fund of up to €200 million to eligible businesses that have been negatively affected by impacts arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 to enable those businesses to innovate, change or adapt in response to the current business environment. Following a further announcement this Scheme is now being significantly expanded. The scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees) negatively impacted by Covid-19. Loans under the scheme range from €25,000 to €1.5m and are for periods of up to three years. The maximum interest rate under the scheme is 4% and loans of up to €500,000 are available unsecured.

  The Future Growth Loan Scheme currently makes up to €300 million of loans available with a term of 8-10 years and is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders. We have seen strong demand for the scheme since its launch in April 2019, resulting in a rapid take up of the scheme. Funding made available by the scheme facilitates long-term, strategic investment.

  The scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees), including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors. Loans under the scheme range from €100,000 (€50,000 for farmers) to €3m per eligible business, with loans of up to €500,000 available unsecured. The initial maximum interest rate is capped at 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% for loans more than or equal to €250,000 for the first six months. These rates represent a significant saving compared with the prevailing rates that are otherwise being offered for similar loans on the market.

  This scheme has been expanded by a further €200m to facilitate longer-term lending to COVID-19 impacted businesses and my Department is working through the details of this expansion and will bring this funding to market as soon as possible.

  The Covid-19 Loan, available from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), was introduced as a support to microenterprises to help them access funding arising from the Covid-19 crisis. These loans are available for eligible microenterprises responding to Covid-19-related difficulties, the negative impact of which must be a minimum of 15% of actual or projected income or profit. Loans up to €50,000 are available with terms that 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.

  An interest rate to 4.5% applies on the Covid-19 loans provided by MFI. This reduced rate is available to all micro-enterprises where the application is made through the Local Enterprise Network or referred by a bank or Local Development Committees. The new rate for direct applications to MFI is reduced to 5.5%. As these loans are available interest free for the first six months, the net effect is to further reduce the net interest rate payable over the period of the loan.

  Government has agreed a new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme and this is a further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme already available. This Scheme forms a major component of the government’s strategy to aid SMEs in these difficult times by providing critical support to ensure businesses are facilitated in having access to credit facilities to assist a return to a more regular trading environment. It will provide an 80% guarantee on lending to SMEs until the end of this year, for terms between 3 months and 6 years. The guarantee will be able to be used for a wide range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million that have a maximum term of 6 years or less.

  The Scheme will be available to all SME sectors, including provincial and local papers. It will also have interest rates below current market rates. The implementation of this Scheme will require primary legislation, the drafting of which has commenced.

  There are a number of liquidity supports for COVID-19 impacted businesses available now, including the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme which was implemented in 2012, supporting loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. The scheme is designed to support a range of debt products appropriate to the borrowing needs of SMEs. An application to access the Credit Guarantee Scheme can be made through one of the participating lenders which are currently Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank Ireland.

  My Department is encouraging any affected business to take advantage of the LEO COVID-19 supports. The situation is still developing from day to day and the Government continues to respond to these developments in an effort to protect and support Irish businesses. The LEOs will continue to work with existing applicants and recipients of Business Continuity Vouchers (BCV) and their subsequent business continuity plans. The awarding of vouchers under the BCV scheme will naturally taper off in the coming weeks as the Local Enterprise Offices process the outstanding applications.

  InterTradeIreland launched two new business supports, these are currently being targeted at companies who are already on one of their programs.

  E-merge enables companies to engage consultancy support & advice (to the value of £2500/€2800) to help them develop online sales & ecommerce solutions.

  Emergency Business Solutions: Fully funded consultancy support & advice (to the value of £2000/€2250) to address key business challenges in areas such as emergency cashflow, loan applications and HR/People.

  The COVID-19 outbreak will result in a serious downturn in the Irish, EU and wider global economy. The downturn will be sudden and wide reaching. Businesses, the labour market and household spending will all be negatively impacted. In particular, the Restart Grant provides direct grant aid to micro and small businesses and some provincial and local newspapers. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers.

  Funding in respect to the Restart Grant is provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and is administered by the 31 Local Authorities.

  I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19 and will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 417. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will amend the restart grant to allow golf and sport clubs that operate on a commercial basis and pay commercial rates to avail of the grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10770/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for commercial firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help those businesses to continue trading and to maintain employment.

  To avail of the Restart Grant, applicants must be a commercial business and be in the Local Authorities’ Commercial Rates Payment System, and:

  - have a turnover of less than €5m  and have 50 or less employees.

- have suffered a projected 25%+ loss in revenue from 1 April 2020 to 30th June 2020.

  - commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed.

  - declare the intention to retain employees that are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

  The primary objective, therefore, is to get funding into small businesses that:

  - Are reliant solely on local trading income;

  - Are financially independent from any group structure;

  - Have suffered significant financial losses;

  - Have had to bear ongoing fixed costs or faced costs associated with reopening the business

  - Provide local paid employment.

  In that context, sporting organisations are not eligible because they have sources of income other than commercial sales for example, membership fees.

  The eligibility criteria will be subject to ongoing review and we will continue to consider issues as they arise.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 418. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans regarding post Covid-19 supports for the bed and breakfast sector (details supplied). [10786/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

  This package is a significant step-up in the supports available for all businesses in all sectors at this very difficult time. The measures have been developed to meet the varying needs of Irish enterprise and they are very specifically targeted by size, sector and need and are targeted at vulnerable but viable companies. My colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has established the Tourism Recovery Taskforce to examine bespoke supports for that sector.

  The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID19 global pandemic has resulted in a swiftly evolving landscape for enterprises. The Government will continue to use all available tools at its disposal to support businesses and ensure their survival. In that context, I will keep the supports provided under review and continue to support enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them.

  Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Tourism Policy

 419. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans with regard to the tourism sector (details supplied). [10789/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

  To qualify for the Restart Grant, a business must be in a rateable premises and:

  - have a turnover of less than €5m and have 50 or less employees;

- have  suffered a projected 25%+ loss in revenue from 1 April  2020 to 30th June 2020; and,

  - commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed. The business must also declare the intention to retain employees that are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

  The eligibility criteria will be subject to ongoing review and we will continue to consider issues as they arise.

  The development of further targeted supports specifically aimed at the tourism sector was initiated and is being led by my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport with the establishment of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce.

  Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 420. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the supports available and the steps a business owner (details supplied) can take in respect of a matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10808/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Application forms for the new €250m Restart Grant providing direct grant aid to micro and small businesses are now available online on all local authority websites. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational.

  To qualify for the Restart Grant, a business must be in a rateable premises and:

  - have a turnover of less than €5m and have 50 or less employees,

  - have suffered a projected 25%+ loss in revenue from 1 April 2020 to 30th June 2020,

  - commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed. The business must also declare the intention to retain employees that are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

  Subject to the qualifying criteria outlined above, any business that has a commercially rateable premises including those businesses with outstanding rates bills are eligible to make an application if they meet the criteria. The grant will be the amount of the rates demand in respect of calendar year 2019 only, subject to a minimum of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000.

  A recently established company that has moved into a rateable premises, or any company that is currently in a rateable premises but was not rate-assessed in 2019, is still eligible to apply. The local authority can pay the grant based on an estimate of what the rates demand for 2019 would have been.

  Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online directly to local authorities and further information is available on the application form. If there are queries that are not addressed on the application form, businesses can contact the Business Support Unit in each local authority.

  The Restart Grant is just one  of a €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, Trading Online Vouchers, low-cost loans from MFI, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

  Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 421. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a business (details supplied) will receive assistance. [10816/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Government has introduced a €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

  Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  In addition to the package of Covid 19 specific liquidity measures, the full range of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

  Microfinance Ireland (MFI) is administering special COVID-19 Loans. The interest rates on these loans have been reduced from 7.8% to 4.5% if applied for through the local enterprise office. Loans are between €5,000 and €50,000 with no repayments or interest due in the first six months.

  Furthermore, by moving their Mentoring and training programmes online, in the form of free webinars available through the LEO’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel, the 31 LEOs have continued to provide the Micro-enterprise sector with a full range of advice and support offerings and continue to process  applications for grant schemes such as the Feasibility Study Grants, Priming Grants, Business Expansion Grants and the LEAN for Micro Programme.

  I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government and with all stakeholders to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses, including micro-enterprises, impacted by Covid-19. In that regard, Government will continue to explore potential funding mechanisms for all enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any further mechanisms allowable under the EU’s state aid framework.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 422. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the supports available to the self-employed restarting work post Covid-19; the supports for sole traders that do not pay rates to a local authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10822/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants from the Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland, low-cost loans from MicroFinance Ireland and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

  I understand the concerns relating to the Restart Grant from businesses that do not operate from commercial premises. However, tradespersons and service providers that operate on a mobile basis or that could continue to work remotely have been better placed to continue to trade and many don’t have the same levels of losses, of ongoing overheads or reopening costs that a fixed premises business will have. Within the funding available, the priority has been to support those who have suffered most, including closure of the business, but who will still have incurred ongoing costs.

  The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID19 global pandemic has resulted in a swiftly evolving landscape for enterprises. The Government will continue to use all available tools at its disposal to support businesses and ensure their survival. In that context, I will keep the supports provided under review and continue to support enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them.

  Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Small and Medium Enterprises

 423. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the supports available to new businesses starting out; if there are specific supports for those setting up in rural towns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10823/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Local Enterprise Offices are the ‘First Stop Shop’ for anyone seeking information and support on starting or growing a business in Ireland. Located in the 31 Local Authorities Offices nationwide, the LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

  I would urge anyone considering starting their own business to first contact their Local Enterprise Office (LEO’s).

  The LEOs can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories:

  - Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea)

  - Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up)

  - Business Development grants for existing businesses that want to expand.

  It should be noted that the LEOs do not provide direct grant-aid to areas such as retail, personal services, local professional services, construction/local building services, as it may give rise to the displacement of existing businesses.

For further information on eligibility criteria see the LEOs Website www.localenterprise.ie.

  Local Enterprise Offices also offer Start Your Own Business programmes/courses. These programmes and courses guide an entrepreneur and businesses starting out through the various aspects of business and business planning, including sources of funding. The objective is to assist people in assessing their idea, its viability and to decide if they should proceed or take a step back.

  All LEOs also offer a number of ‘soft’ supports in the form of training or mentoring such as:

- The Mentor Programme which is designed to match up the knowledge, skills, insights and entrepreneurial capability of experienced business practitioners with small business owner/ managers who need practical and strategic one to one advice and guidance.

- The LEO Management Development programmes which provide the owner-manager with the management, leadership, business skills and knowledge to achieve sustainability and growth in their business.

- LEAN for Micro which is a targeted programme for Local Enterprise Office clients to help small businesses boost competitiveness, increase performance and profitability as well a building resilience within their companies.

  Further to this, if a potential business is not eligible for direct grant aid, an entrepreneur with a viable business proposal can also make an application through their LEO to MicroFinance Ireland, which offers support in the form of standard loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups with viable business propositions, that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. Successful applicants can avail of a more favourable interest rate from MFI of 6.8% if they make their application through the LEOs.

  If a business is a micro-enterprise which is impacted by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in actual or projected turnover or profit and the business is having difficulty in accessing finance from commercial lending providers, the MFI COVID-19 Business Loan up to €50,000 may be able to support your business. Discounted interest rate of 4.5% APR is available if their loan application is submitted through the Local Enterprise Office.

  In terms of aspiring entrepreneurs and new businesses, I am satisfied that there is a comprehensive suite of supports available and that these supports are accessible in rural towns through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices across the country.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 424. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will address matters raised in correspondence (details supplied) relating to SME supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10855/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities.

  These supports are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  The full range of Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

  In that regard, Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including micro-enterprises as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

  Government has agreed a new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme as a further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme already available from AIB, BOI and Ulster Bank.  This Scheme forms a major component of the government’s strategy to aid SMEs in these difficult times by providing critical support to ensure businesses are facilitated in having access to credit facilities to assist a return to a more regular trading environment.  It will provide an 80% guarantee on lending to SMEs until the end of this year, for terms between 3 months and 6 years.  The guarantee will be able to be used for a wide range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million that have a maximum term of 6 years or less.

  The Scheme will be available to all SME sectors, including in the hospitality sector. It will also have interest rates below current market rates.  The implementation of this Scheme will require primary legislation, the drafting of which has been approved by Government, and my officials are working with the Office of the Parliamentary counsel on this drafting work.

  Work is also under way to extend existing schemes in place to support access to finance for businesses to ensure that they can continue to offer support to businesses as they look towards reopening. These include the Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme and the Future Growth Loan Scheme.

  The Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme makes lending available to eligible businesses that have been negatively impacted by issues arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland as they seek to innovate, change or adapt in response to this disruption. Loans under this scheme are for up to three years and range from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%.

  Future Growth Loan Scheme provides long term loans of 8-10 years to businesses at low interest rates. There has been significant demand for the scheme and the initial funding has been almost fully subscribed. This expansion will further support the needs of SMEs, including primary producers, impacted by COVID-19. This new funding will be released in tranches. The long-term nature of these loans is particularly important for businesses as they plan for recovery. Work is under way to deliver this funding as quickly as possible.

  My Department is encouraging any affected business to take advantage of the LEO COVID-19 supports. The situation is still developing from day to day and the Government continues to respond to these developments in an effort to protect and support Irish businesses. The LEOs will continue to work with existing applicants and recipients of Business Continuity Vouchers (BCV) and their subsequent business continuity plans. The awarding of vouchers under the BCV scheme will naturally taper off in the coming weeks as the Local Enterprise Offices process the outstanding applications.

  InterTradeIreland launched two new business supports, these are currently being targeted at companies who are already on one of their programs.

  E-merge enables companies to engage consultancy support and advice (to the value of £2500/€2800) to help them develop online sales & ecommerce solutions.

  Emergency Business Solutions: Fully funded consultancy support and advice (to the value of £2000/€2250) to address key business challenges in areas such as emergency cashflow, loan applications and HR/People.

  The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the Irish and global economy. COVID-19 has emerged as a sudden and profound disruptor. Both globally and nationally it is unclear how deep the impact will be or how long it will last. The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting significant challenges for SMEs, the impact of which varies by sector and region. Following a strong 2019 performance, companies focused on internationalisation and growth at the start of 2020 are facing new, and unplanned for, challenges.

  The Restart Grant provides direct grant aid to micro and small businesses. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. Funding in respect to the Restart Grant is provided by my Department and is administered by the 31 Local Authorities. Louth Local Authority will continue to work with the SME concerned to progressed their application for the Restart Grant.

  Further targeted supports specifically aimed at the tourism sector will be initiated and led by my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport who has recently formed a special Tourism Recovery Taskforce dedicated to spearheading economic recovery for the tourism sector. For further information see https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/0e6570-ministers-ross-and-griffin-launch-tourism-recovery-taskforce/

  I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19 and will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 425. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her attention has been drawn to cases of yoga studios that are currently categorised similarly to gyms in the final phase of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (details supplied); and her views on businesses in this situation. [10932/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Under the reconfiguration of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business announced on the 5th June, there are now just two remaining phases instead of three, with Phase 3 starting on the 29th of June, and Phase 4 on the 20th of July. Further work will be carried out in the coming days and weeks to determine which actions will take place in each phase.  Updates to the roadmap can be found at www.gov.ie.

  The Roadmap is a living document and Government has demonstrated great flexibility in its decision to accelerate the phases as set out in the original Roadmap.

   The input and advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) informed the Government’s decision to proceed with Phase 2 and to accelerate elements of the Roadmap. The Government also had regard to a paper which was developed by my Department in conjunction with the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to provide an updated assessment of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify, from an economic perspective, some priority issues for re-opening of economic activity under Phase 2. This paper, “Economic Considerations for Reinstating Economic Activity - Update for Phase 2”, is available on my Department’s website at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Economic-Considerations-for-Reinstating-Economic-Activity-Update-for-Phase-2.pdf.

   On 8th June the Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D., signed SI No.206 of 2020, Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions)(COVID-19)(No. 2) Regulations. These Regulations, which shall remain in operation until 29th June, provide for the unwinding of certain restrictions, including the reopening of retail outlets and extending the distance that may be travelled for specified purposes. The Regulations also provide for continued restrictions for some businesses or services and for offences, including in relation to events. Businesses should carefully review these Regulations. Gymnasiums (whether indoors or outdoors) are listed in Schedule 2 as among the businesses and services not permitted to open at this time.

  Businesses should also review the Roadmap and the updates carefully and carry out a detailed assessment of their activities with regard to the continuing public health measures. Businesses should, based on their assessment, identify which category in which phase of reopening they will be in a position to reopen safely and in line with the continued public health measures. It is not necessary for businesses to seek official authorisation to reopen.

  The National Return to Work Safely Protocol is a useful guide for businesses in making their assessments and adapting their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures. It sets out in very clear terms for employers and employees the steps that they must take firstly before a workplace reopens, and then while it continues to operate. The Protocol is available at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Return-to-Work-Safely-Protocol.html.

  The Health and Safety Authority, which is an agency of my Department, is the lead agency in overseeing compliance with the National Return to Work Safely Protocol in the workplace. If employers or employees need further guidance on the Protocol, the HSA Helpline can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or wcu@hsa.ie.

   In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. These supports are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  I recognise the impact that this pandemic is having on businesses right across the country. I know that employers and employees want to get back to work and I support them in that ambition, but it must be safe to do so. My Department contributed to the considerations around the phased re-opening of sectors under Phases 1 and 2 and I will work within Government to secure further details and clarity for businesses as we progress through the remaining Phases in the Roadmap.

  It is important to note that all decisions taken by Government on the timing of any lifting of restrictions as envisaged in the next two phases of the Roadmap will be informed by the public health advice at the time.

Job Losses

 426. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Sean Fleming Zoom on Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the contact she is having with companies that have employed both outside and inside Ireland in circumstances in which there are major job cuts being planned; the arrangements or agreements that can be put in place to ensure that there is not an undue number of redundancies here at the expense of saving jobs in other countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11006/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys IDA Ireland work closely with their client companies to support and maintain their operations here. That often involves daily engagement with senior management of firms to help grow and sustain their respective presence across the country. This close cooperation is one of the reasons that 2019 was another record year for foreign direct investment (FDI) driven employment in Ireland, with 245,000 people employed in 1,500 IDA client firms.

The economic impact of Covid-19 will, however, unfortunately also be felt in the FDI sector. The IDA is already working closely with affected companies and key stakeholders to help mitigate job losses and to attract new investment that can create new employment opportunities.

In more general terms, it remains the case that Ireland’s economy is outward-facing and export-orientated. That openness has been a key part of our economic success, particularly in the context of our recovery from the global economic crisis that began in 2008. However, multinational companies do sometimes make decisions about their global operations that can lead to job losses here. We very much regret when that happens but it is a reality of the globalised environment in which our economy operates. That is why we constantly work hard, both through the IDA and across Government, to attract new investment to Ireland that can help offset job losses when they do occur. Securing such new investment for the country will remain a key priority in the time ahead, particularly as we seek to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 427. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her Department has access to an up-to-date register of workplace health and safety representatives in those businesses which have recently reopened; and the method by which her officials are communicating with workplace health and safety representatives. [11008/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I wish to advise the Deputy that I have no statutory function in maintaining a register of workplace health and safety representatives.

Sections 25 and 26 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 make provision for the selection and appointment of Safety Representatives and the consultation and participation of employees. I am advised by the Health and Safety Authority that they do not keep a register of safety representatives selected by workers under Section 26 of the 2005 Act. However, inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority do keep a record of any communications they have with safety representatives at a place of work.

The Return to Work Safely Protocol specifically recommends that an employer should appoint a least one-worker representative whose role is to work collaboratively with the employer to assist in the implementation of the public health measures set out in the Protocol and monitor adherence to the measures to prevent the spread of COVID -19. In relation to inspections carried out since 18 May 2020 inspectors found that 756 COVID-19 worker representatives have been appointed which was 53% of the total inspections. Health and Safety Authority inspectors would have communicated with these worker representatives as they met them on inspections. In cases where there was no worker representatives as yet appointed, the HSA would have noted this in the inspection report and requested the appointment of a worker representative as soon as possible and noted this for follow up.

The Health and Safety Authority has produced a range of checklists, including a specific Worker Representative Checklist, and templates to help employers, employees, business owners and managers to get their business up and running again. In the course of inspections and through the Health and Safety Authority’s helpline every assistance is being given to employers and employees in adhering to the Protocol and adapting to new ways of working.

The Health and Safety Authority has produced a range of checklists, including a specific Worker Representative Checklist, and templates to help employers, employees, business owners and managers to get their business up and running again. In the course of inspections and through the Health and Safety Authority’s helpline every assistance is being given to employers and employees in adhering to the Protocol and adapting to new ways of working.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 428. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number and value of Covid-19 related grants paid out for each county up to 8 June 2020, in tabular form. [11079/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the Irish and global economy. COVID-19 has emerged as a sudden and profound disruptor. Both globally and nationally it is unclear how deep the impact will be or how long it will last. I have introduced a range of supports for businesses to support them through the crisis and the take up of supports can be accessed on my Department's website at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Take-up-of-DBEI-COVID-19-Business-Supports.html.

  Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation have launched new COVID-19 supports for enterprise which utilise a number of financial instruments including grants. The breakdown of grants approved and paid by county is attached, please note companies approved grants must incur the cost before they can claim payment from Enterprise Ireland. This results in a delay between approval and payment of a grant.

  InterTradeIreland launched two new business supports, these are currently being targeted at companies who are already on one of their programs. E-merge enables companies to engage consultancy support & advice (to the value of £2500/€2800) to help them develop online sales & ecommerce solutions.

  Emergency Business Solutions: Fully funded consultancy support & advice (to the value of £2000/€2250) to address key business challenges in areas such as emergency cashflow, loan applications and HR/People. InterTradeIreland are not in a position to provide a county breakdown at this point.

  All Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation grant supports are detailed as follows.

  Tables of uptake by county where available:

  Lean Business Continuity Voucher

County Number of grants paid out Value of supports granted
Donegal <5 €2,500
Dublin <5 €3,400
Wicklow <5 €2,500
Grand Total <15 €8,400


  Business Continuity Voucher (IDA Ireland)
County Number of grants approved, none paid out yet Value of supports granted
Carlow 1 €2,500
Cork 9 €22,500
Dublin 5 €12,500
Galway 1 €2,500
Limerick 2 €5,000
Meath 1 €2,500
Waterford 1 €2,500
Wexford 1 €2,500
Grand Total 21 €52,500
  21 approved and no grants paid out yet

Business Continuity Voucher Performance 16 March to 10 June 2020
County Applications Approvals Value of Approvals € * Value Of Supports Granted €
Carlow 197 172 430,000 0
Cavan 370 242 605,000 12,955
Clare 397 272 602,272 18,029
Cork   1,485 1,230 2,922,370 41,234
Donegal 679 470 785,876 34,072
Dublin   3,009 1,715 4,263,216 65,781
Galway 813 272 571,200 12,500
Kerry 289 132 120,375 0
Kildare 706 632 1,580,000 0
Kilkenny 311  265 633,633 43,679
Laois 223  110 202,678 12,186
Leitrim 158  115 273,000 10,431
Limerick 699  224 448,000 21,452
Longford 227 108 226,869 41,634
Louth 593 185 352,500 22,052
Mayo 364  272 298,055 19,800
Meath 576  168 390,670 36,542
Monaghan 222 211 360,691 58,626
Offaly 454 309 717,897 142,424
Roscommon 232 148 280,286 10,679
Sligo 281 192 462,184 37,133
Tipperary 623  475 1,187,500 66,212
Waterford 682 568 1,298,968 60,690
Westmeath 549  311 721,734 59,662
Wexford 394  337 491,500 32,890
Wicklow 296 254 373,350 0
Grand Total 14,829 9,389 20,599,824 860,663
 *   It should be noted that there will likely be a lag between project approval and project payment. The payment of the Business Continuity Voucher is dependent on the project being finished, invoiced and project report submitted to LEO, LEO completing due diligence checks and Local Authority Finance processing it.

Trading Online Voucher Performance 16 March to 10 June 2020
County Applications Approvals *Value of Approvals €
Carlow 64   38 95,000
Cavan 79 40 95,743
Clare 170   79  197,500
Cork  500 241  603,246
Donegal 165   75  180,796
Dublin   1,224  466 1,079,031
Galway 249  108  255,302
Kerry 154 45  101,691
Kildare 184  122  277,385
Kilkenny 115 84 192,795
Laois 77 34 77,699
Leitrim 52   24 57,549
Limerick 164 60  138,116
Longford 52 31 74,100
Louth 129 50  105,278
Mayo 94 64  138,672
Meath 149 75  177,113
Monaghan 56 22 53,632
Offaly 49 37 89,612
Roscommon 37 37 81,322
Sligo 105   24 54,124
Tipperary 154 120  300,000
Waterford 143   63  144,820
Westmeath 120   66  151,457
Wexford 199   74  163,488
Wicklow 176   78  180,790
Grand Total   4,660 2,157 5,066,261
 * It should be noted that there will likely be a lag between project approval and project payment. The payment of the Trading Online Voucher is dependent on the project being finished, invoiced and project report submitted to LEO, LEO completing due diligence checks and Local Authority Finance processing it. Hence, actual amounts paid out are not yet available.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 429. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if sports clubs and community centres will be allowed apply for the restart grant when the reopening phase for same occurs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11110/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys On Friday, 15 May 2020 the Government announced details of the new €250m Restart Grant providing direct grant aid to micro and small businesses. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers.

  The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for commercial firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help those businesses to continue trading and to maintain employment.

  To avail of the Restart Grant, applicants must be a commercial business and be in the Local Authorities’ Commercial Rates Payment System, and:

  - have a turnover of less than €5m and have 50 or less employees.

- have suffered a projected 25%+ loss in revenue from 1 April 2020 to 30th June 2020.

  - commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed.

  - declare the intention to retain employees that are benefitting from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

  The primary objective, therefore, is to get funding into small businesses that:

  - Are reliant solely on local trading income;

  - Are financially independent from any group structure;

  - Have suffered significant financial losses;

  - Have had to bear ongoing fixed costs or faced costs associated with re-opening the business;

  - Provide local paid employment.

  In that context, sporting and community organisations are not eligible because they are not primarily commercial organisations and have sources of income other than commercial sales for example, membership fees.

  On Friday 8th May, my colleagues Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development, announced the launch of a €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises. The package includes a €35 million ‘COVID-19 Stability Fund’ which will provide a level of support to qualifying organisations who are most in need and have seen their trading and/or fundraising income drop significantly during the crisis.

   For a full list of supports for business please see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Health and Safety Authority

 430. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the Health and Safety Authority has inspected and reported on an incident (details supplied) that occurred in a Dublin Airport detention room in November 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11162/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I have been informed by the Health and Safety Authority that it has not investigated the incident referred to by the Deputy.

  As a general comment, the Health and Safety Authority will investigate accidents that occur at places of work that result in a fatality or serious injury and where the accident is attributable to a work activity.

  Separately, I would add that I have no statutory role in the carrying out of investigations or inspections that fall to the Health and Safety Authority to undertake.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 431. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her plans to support seasonal food businesses that need support to start takeaway services; her plans to support seasonal businesses that were closed in January and February 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11204/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Local Enterprise Offices are the ‘First Stop Shop’ for anyone seeking information about supports available for businesses. Located in the 31 Local Authorities Offices nationwide, the LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the Credit Review Office and Microfinance Ireland. The LEOs can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

  It should be noted that while seasonal food businesses do not qualify for grant support, there are however other supports available to the seasonal food sector. For example seasonal food businesses can benefit from training and development through the "Food Starter Programme" which is now being run remotely and the new e-hub called the "Digital School of Food" with all details available on the LEOs website at www.localenterprise.ie.

  The Local Enterprise Office network also runs regular webinars in relation to supports for food businesses and I am including the following YouTube link to ‘Lunch & Learn’ webinar which took place recently. The theme was: Supports for Food & Drink Producers -  https://youtu.be/6c-W5sO3nVc.

  I would urge seasonal food producers to talk to their Local Enterprise Offices regarding the supports available as they offer advice, training and mentoring which could be extremely beneficial to a business.

  The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) 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. For seasonal businesses wishing to have an on-line presence, the Local Enterprise Office trading on-line voucher is designed to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online. It should however be noted that it is a requirement of the scheme that a business be operational for 6 months to be eligible to apply for this scheme.

  My colleagues, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD,  have recently established a special Tourism Recovery Taskforce with an Independent Chair, dedicated to spearheading economic recovery for the tourism sector and ancillary activities to prepare recommendations on how best the Irish tourism sector can adapt and recover and to identify priority aims, key enablers and market opportunities for the sector for the period 2020-2023. 

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 432. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will consider introducing additional financial supports for hospitality businesses in rural areas which have been closed during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to help them reopen in view of the fact they will not have the benefit of increased footfall due to location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11210/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities.

  These supports are designed to build confidence, to further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies and to allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead. For a full list of supports for business please see https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

  The COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme which is offered in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and is supported by the InnovFin SME Guarantee facility and is available to the hospitality sector. The scheme is operated by the SBCI. The Scheme is providing a fund of up to €250 million to eligible businesses that have been negatively affected by impacts arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 to enable those businesses to innovate, change or adapt in response to the current business environment. Following a further announcement, work is now under way on a significant expansion to this Scheme.

  The scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees) negatively impacted by COVID-19. Loans under the scheme range from €25,000 to €1.5m and are for periods of up to three years. The maximum interest rate under the scheme is 4% and loans of up to €500,000 are available unsecured.

  The Future Growth Loan Scheme currently makes up to €300 million of loans available with a term of 8-10 years and is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders. We have seen strong demand for the scheme since its launch in April 2019, resulting in a rapid take up of the scheme. Funding made available by the scheme facilitates long-term, strategic investment.

  The scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses of up to 499 employees), including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors. Loans under the scheme range from €100,000 (€50,000 for farmers) to €3m per eligible business, with loans of up to €500,000 available unsecured. The initial maximum interest rate is capped at 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% for loans more than or equal to €250,000 for the first six months. These rates represent a significant saving compared with the prevailing rates that are otherwise being offered for similar loans on the market.

  This scheme is being expanded by a further €200m to facilitate longer-term lending to COVID-19-impacted businesses and my Department is working through the details of this expansion and will bring this funding to market as soon as possible.

  The COVID-19 Loan, available from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), was introduced as a support to microenterprises to help them access funding arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

  These loans are available for eligible microenterprises responding to COVID-19-related difficulties, the negative impact of which must be a minimum of 15% of actual or projected income or profit. Loans up to €50,000 are available with terms that 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.

  An interest rate to 4.5% applies on the COVID-19 loans provided by MFI. This reduced rate is available to all micro-enterprises where the application is made through the Local Enterprise Network or referred by a bank or Local Development Committees. The new rate for direct applications to MFI is reduced to 5.5%. As these loans are available interest free for the first six months, the net effect is to further reduce the net interest rate payable over the period of the loan.

  Government has agreed a new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, and this is a further development of the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme already available. This Scheme forms a major component of the government’s strategy to aid SMEs in these difficult times by providing critical support to ensure businesses are facilitated in having access to credit facilities to assist a return to a more regular trading environment. It will provide an 80% guarantee on lending to SMEs until the end of this year, for terms between 3 months and 6 years. The guarantee will be able to be used for a wide range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million that have a maximum term of 6 years or less.

  The Scheme will be available to all SME sectors including the hospitality sector and includes primary producers. It will also have interest rates below current market rates. The implementation of this Scheme will require primary legislation, the drafting of which has commenced.

  There are a number of liquidity supports for COVID-19 impacted businesses available now, including the existing Credit Guarantee Scheme which was implemented in 2012, supporting loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. The scheme is designed to support a range of debt products appropriate to the borrowing needs of SMEs. An application to access the Credit Guarantee Scheme can be made through one of the participating lenders which are currently Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank Ireland.

  The Hospitality Sector would be eligible for all LEO supports including Lean and Mentoring. They are also eligible for a Trading Online Voucher provided they meet the following criteria:

 - Limited or no e-commerce presence;

 - 10 or less employees;

 - Turnover less than €2m;

 - Applicant business must be trading for at least 6 months;

 - Business must be located in the area covered by the LEO to whom they make their application i.e. LEOs cannot accept applications from businesses located outside their jurisdiction. Regrettably they are not eligible for grant support.

 - The €250m Restart Grant which is being administered by the local authorities, providing direct grant aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures.

 - Eligible businesses who have stayed open throughout the crisis, as well as those who are reopening under Phase 1 (from 18th May) and Phase 2 (8th  June) of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, are encouraged to apply first for the Restart Grant. These applications will be prioritised for payment by the local authorities.

 - To avail of the Restart Grant, applicants must be a commercial business and be in the Local Authorities Commercial Rates Payment System and:

 - have an annual turnover of less than €5m and employ 50 people or less;

 - have suffered a projected 25%+ loss in turnover between 1 April and end June 2020; 

 - commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed;

 - declare the intention to retain employees that are on The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.

  The grant will be the amount of the rates demand in respect of calendar year 2019 only, subject to a minimum of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000. The Restart Grant support is just one part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

  Further targeted supports specifically aimed at the tourism sector will be initiated and led by my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport who has recently formed a special Tourism Recovery Taskforce dedicated to spearheading economic recovery for the tourism sector. For further information see https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/0e6570-ministers-ross-and-griffin-launch-tourism-recovery-taskforce/. I can assure the Deputy that I continue to work with my colleagues across Government to examine further appropriate supports to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19 and will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 433. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys when local authorities can expect to receive funding for the purposes of the business restart grants as announced in May 2020. [11213/20]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys On Friday, 15 May 2020, the Government decided to establish a new €250m Restart Grant providing direct grant aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures.

  The funds for the Restart Grant were transferred by Enterprise Ireland to all local authorities on Wednesday 10 June and the payments are now being dispersed to applicants. As of Friday 12th June 2020, funding of €17.12m had issued to businesses under the scheme.

  Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online directly to local authorities.

  Further information on how to apply is available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/COVID-19-Restart-Grant-Local-Authority-Websites.html.

  Question No. 434 answered with Question No. 403.


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