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COVID-19 Supports

There is a wide range of supports available to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Income supports

The COVID-19 Income Support Scheme provides financial support to Irish workers and businesses affected by the crisis.

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme: The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible employees on the employer’s payroll. 
 

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment: The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MyWelfare.ie is the quickest and easiest way to apply for payments.

On MyWelfare.ie all customers can:

  • apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
  • apply for Enhanced Illness Benefit for COVID-19 including for self-isolation cases
  • apply for a jobseeker’s payment
  • request to close their COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
     

Short-time Work Support: Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short-time Work Support.

Loans, grants, vouchers and schemes

COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme: The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme facilitates up to €2 billion in lending to eligible businesses. Loans under the Scheme range from €10,000 to €1 million, for terms of up to five and a half years. Financing will be offered through a range of products, including term loans, working capital loans and overdrafts. Loans of up to €250,000 under the Scheme are available unsecured (except where this is a requirement of the product feature, as in the case of asset finance, invoice discount facilities, etc). The Scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating finance providers.
 

COVID-19 Business Loans: COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first 6 months and the equivalent of an additional 6 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loans can range from €5,000 to €25,000. Repayments will commence in month 7 for the remaining period of your loan. The Government will rebate to you the interest paid in the following 6 months (months 7-12 of your loan). The interest rate after the first 6 months will be a reduced interest rate 4.5% APR if submitted through the Local Enterprise Office Network (or other referral partners) or 5.5% APR if you apply directly to Microfinance Ireland. The loan terms are typically up to 3 years and there are no fees or charges.
 

COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme: The SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie. Eligibility criteria apply.
 

Future Growth Loan Scheme: The enhanced Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €800m of loans available for terms of 7-10 years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland, including those in the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment.
 

Sustaining Enterprise Fund: The Sustaining Enterprise Fund is specifically aimed at firms operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, with 10 or more employees, that are vulnerable but viable. The fund is operated by Enterprise Ireland with amounts between €100,000 and €800,000 available to eligible companies who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The fund includes a 50% non-repayable grant element, up to a limit of €200,000.
 

Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund: The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will focus on investment in medium and large scale enterprises in Ireland through a Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund. The fund, worth up to €2 billion, will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms.
 

General grant supports: The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant 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. 
 

COVID Restrictions Support Scheme: The COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) offers support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions imposed on them in response to COVID-19. Eligible businesses can make a claim to Revenue for a payment known as an Advance Credit for Trading Expenses (ACTE). An ACTE is payable for each week a business is affected by the restrictions. The ACTE is subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000.
 

Tourism Business Continuity Scheme: The new €55 million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme will support those tourism businesses that were not eligible for the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payment or previous Fáilte Ireland continuity grant schemes.
 

Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID: The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC) is a grant designed for businesses that are not eligible for the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the Fáilte Ireland Business Continuity grant or other direct sectoral grant schemes. Applications for Phase 1 closed on 21 April 2021. A decision on the second quarter 2021 will be made in due course. 
 

Enterprise Support Grant: The Enterprise Support Grant for businesses impacted by COVID-19 is available for eligible self-employed people who close their COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment on or after 18 May 2020. This will provide business owners with a once-off grant of up to €1,000 to restart their business which was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 

Trading Online Voucher: The Local Enterprise Office Trading Online Voucher is a government grant scheme, 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. Businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.
 

LEAN for Micro: LEAN for Micro is available to Local Enterprise Office clients to help build resilience within small companies. Businesses can avail of consultancy support with a LEAN Expert or help to implement new remote working and physical distancing guidelines. Contact your Local Enterprise Office for further details.
 

COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant: The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, is designed to help companies to develop a robust financial plan, including the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and/or other finance providers. The grant is a new support for Enterprise Ireland clients and those manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ 10 or more full time employees.
 

Cross-border companies: InterTradeIreland’s Emergency Business Solutions offers professional advice, to the value of €2,250, to address key business challenges related to COVID-19. The E-Merge programme provides €2,800 consultancy support to help cross-border businesses develop online sales and eCommerce solutions.
 

COVID-19 Products Scheme: The COVID-19 Products Scheme facilitates the research and development of COVID products, to enable the construction or upgrading of testing and upscaling infrastructures that contribute to the development COVID-19 relevant products, as well as to support the production of products needed to respond to the outbreak. The scheme is delivered through IDA Ireland's COVID-19 supports and Enterprise Ireland's COVID-19 Business Response. 
 

Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme: The Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme, delivered by SOLAS, provides financial support for apprenticeship employers who take on apprentices on national apprenticeship programmes. Apprenticeship employers are eligible for a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice.
 

Code of Conduct for commercial rents: A voluntary Code of Conduct between landlords and tenants for commercial rents has been developed based on examples from other jurisdictions and with input from other Departments, State agencies and key stakeholders. The aim of the Code is to facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19.

Rates waiver and tax measures

Commercial rates waiver: With limited exceptions, all businesses were granted a nine-month commercial rates waiver to 27 December 2020. Further commercial rates relief for affected sectors has been extended to 30 June 2021. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will provide further details on the commercial rates waiver.
 

'Warehousing' of deferred tax debts: The scheme, administered by Revenue, will ‘warehouse’ VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts associated with the COVID-19 crisis.
 

Reduction in the standard rate of VAT: A six-month reduction in the standard rate of Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 23% to 21% will apply, effective from 1 September 2020.
 

VAT rate reduction from 13.5% to 9%: A VAT rate reduction from 13.5% to 9% applies from 1 November 2020 in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing the hospitality and tourism sector.
 

Advice for taxpayers and agents: Revenue's COVID-19 information and advice for taxpayers and agents provides information on Revenue services and tax and customs measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic including information on tax returns and interest suspension arrangements.

Sector-specific supports and guidance

Food, drink and horticulture sector: Bord Bia's COVID-19 hub offers a suite of supports and toolkits for food, drink and horticulture businesses affected by COVID-19.
 

Seafood sector: Bord Iascaigh Mhara is providing COVID-19 business support to the seafood sector.
 

Farm businesses: Teagasc is available to provide support on issues facing farm businesses in light of COVID-19.
 

Tourism sector: The Fáilte Ireland COVID-19 Business Support Hub is targeting its supports to respond to the challenges tourism businesses face. Their supports include specific operational guidelines for every sector and a Business Continuity Scheme to help tourism businesses through the pandemic. The new Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities across the country. 
 

Tourism, arts, culture and sports sectoral guidance: The COVID-19 sectoral guidance from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media provides targeted information for the sectors it supports.
 

Design sector: The Design & Craft Council Ireland delivers a range of support and development programmes, including webinars and FAQs in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the design sector.
 

Supply chain workers: COVID-19 guidance for supply chain workers
 

Restaurants to operate as takeaways: Amendments to Planning and Development Regulations temporarily allow restaurants to operate as takeaways without being required to obtain change of use planning permission.
 

Standards for medical supplies made freely available: NSAI and SAI Global have developed the COVID-19 Response Package which provides free access to Standards for medical devices and PPE.
 

Guidance on the manufacture and distribution of medical devices, PPE and barrier masks:

Placing PPE on the EU market–new conformity procedures (HSA): COVID–19 Conformity Assessment and Market Surveillance procedures for PPE

Manufacturing and importing PPE and medical devices (NSAI): Guidance on manufacturing and importing PPE and Medical Devices to ensure compliance

Guidance on barrier masks (CCPC): Guidance for business on producing or distributing barrier masks

Specification on barrier masks (NSAI): SWiFT 19:2020 barrier masks for consumers - Requirements
 

Online COVID-19 platform to help firms collaborate: Companies aiming to help healthcare responses to the COVID-19 crisis can collaborate via the online COVID-19 platform.

Skills and training supports

The government offers a range of initiatives for reskilling and upskilling to help businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Skills and training supports include Enterprise Ireland's eiLearn online learning resource, LEO training webinars, Skillnet Ireland's Skills Connect, the SOLAS Skills to Advance initiative and Springboard+ courses.

For details on the range of supports visit COVID-19: Skills and training supports for businesses.

Work Safely Protocol

The Work Safely Protocol is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol is a general document applicable to all sectors. It sets out the minimum measures required in every place of work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to facilitate the re-opening of workplaces following temporary closures and the ongoing safe operation of those workplace.

Online courses

The HSA Work Safely online courses includes a course to help understand the Protocol requirements and a course for those appointed Lead Worker Representative. 

Templates and checklists

The HSA COVID-19 templates and checklists – based on the Protocol – have been prepared to inform employers, business owners, managers and workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Data Protection

The Data Protection – Work Safely Protocol guidance document has been prepared to assist in providing clarification where the measures set out in the Work Safely Protocol may result in the processing of personal data.

Business continuity

Business Continuity Planning COVID-19 Checklist: The Department's checklist on Business Continuity Planning provides a useful checklist for businesses in responding to COVID-19.
 

Workplace Protection and Improvement: The NSAI COVID-19 Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide consolidates the practical guidance available on how to manage business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic, in relation to workers and the public.
 

Retail Protection and Improvement: The NSAI COVID-19 Retail Protection and Improvement Guide consolidates the practical guidance available on how to manage business continuity of the retail sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.       
 

Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection: The NSAI COVID-19 Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection Guide provides guidance for shopping centres restoring business operations following a disruption or closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

Tourism businesses guidelines for reopening: Fáilte Ireland's sector specific operational guidelines for the tourism industry to ensure the safe reopening of tourism businesses.
 

ReBound – Back to Business. Safely: The Skillnet Ireland ReBound initiative offers guidance to SME owners and managers on implementing the Work Safely Protocol.
 

Working remotely: Guidance on working remotely during COVID-19 for employers and employees seeking to engage with remote working solutions.
 

HSA advice for employers and employees: HSA advice and guidance for employers and employees including COVID-19 FAQs and guidance on homeworking.

 

For more information, advice and guidelines from across government visit gov.ie/covid19.

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