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As the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues to bite, governments around the world are looking to support both individuals and businesses during these unprecedented times. With vast swathes of the economy closed for businesses, the emergency measures being rolled out have never been seen before. But what are they and how can they help?
Here we’ve looked at some of the main assistance schemes available to businesses in the Republic of Ireland. However, we’ve only highlighted a few of them and it’s not an exhaustive list by any means. Therefore we strongly recommend having a look at the full list of Irish business support during the COVID-19 pandemic on the Gov.ie website.
SMEs particularly are more likely to be struggling, with many looking to various forms of credit to try and revive their cash flow. The way the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme works is by helping banks feel more positive about lending to SMEs particularly during uncertain times. This is done by offering a partial government guarantee of 80%. It means banks can protect themselves better against losses on eligible loans to SMEs so is a positive step. It takes a lot of the risk away from banks, making them more likely to look favourably upon SMEs than they may otherwise have done.
The scheme is all about allowing COVID-19 affected businesses to access the working capital they need to survive. This can then be used by businesses to obtain loans which will enable them to make any required changes in order to respond to the coronavirus. For example, the money may help to pay staff wages or it could be used to buy the necessary equipment required for social distancing.
Find out more about the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme including eligibility and how to apply.
Microenterprises (businesses employing under 10 people and whose annual turnover is not more than 2 million euros) can receive 3-year COVID-19 Business Loans of up to from Microfinance Ireland. These loans are worth up to €50,000 with terms including a 6-month interest free, repayment free payment break. The loan then needs to be paid back over the remaining 30 months at an interest rate of 4.5% to 5.5%. You can find out more about these loans and how to apply at Microfinance Ireland or the Local Enterprise Office.
The Business Continuity Voucher scheme (administered by the Local Enterprise Office) is aimed at businesses employing up to 50 people. It’s open to organisations in any sector and covers third party consultancy costs up to a maximum of €2,500.
Business Continuity Vouchers are available to claim right now and can be used by companies and sole traders in devising strategies to stay in business during the coronavirus uncertainty.
The SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme offers various business support loans of between €25,000 up to €1.5 million. The first €500,000 is unsecured, and although interest rates vary they’ll never be more than 4%. Eligibility conditions apply, and applications can be completed on the SBCI website.
The Irish government has also announced plans to offer an extra €200 million in COVID-19 funding for the Future Growth Loan Scheme. This funding will be released in stages, and will mean longer-term loans being available to businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Again this one is particularly aimed at smaller businesses and start-ups who employ a maximum of 10 people. It provides funding to firms that have struggled due to the effects coronavirus but which are still viable. The scheme gives repayable advances to a maximum of €800,000 and is administered by Enterprise Ireland.
The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund exists to support Irish SMEs specifically via the Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund. Worth up to €2 billion, the fund will offer capital to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms during the COVID-19 uncertainty.
In light of COVID-19, businesses who have had to close due to public health measures in the Republic of Ireland will not need to pay commercial rates for 3 months and started on the 27th March 2020.
Although the government has unveiled a comprehensive raft of temporary measures to financially assist companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also more permanent measures too. For innovative companies for instance, there’s R&D Tax Credits.
Originally launched back in the early 2000s, the R&D Tax Credits scheme encourages Irish businesses to invest in research and development. The credit is calculated at 25% of eligible expenditure and is serves to reduce a company's Corporation Tax liability. This is in addition to the 12.5% reduction at the standard rate, in effect producing a 37.5% saving which is extremely generous. If a company has already offset its current and previous years' liability, or it has made a loss, then it can receive the benefit in cash instalments instead.
Essentially, to be eligible for R&D Tax Credits a company needs to have carried out R&D work in either Ireland or elsewhere in the European Economic Area. This work needs also to have involved systemic, investigative or experimental activities in the fields of science or technology. For instance, it could involve the creation of a brand new product, process or service or the upgrade of an existing one.
The scope of eligible projects and costs is extremely broad when it comes to R&D Tax Credits and it is indeed a fairly niche accounting area. To find out more about eligibility and how to claim, why not take a look at our R&D Tax Credits page.
Applying for R&D Tax Credits isn’t necessarily straight-forward and there are many pitfalls. That’s why we strongly recommend speaking to a specialist R&D tax consultancy like us at Myriad Associates.
Not only can we guide you in identifying relevant R&D activities and putting your claim together, our 100% success rate means you’ll receive all the money you’re owed.
Call the Dublin-based team now on +353 1 566 2001 or use our contact page so we can get back to you