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Rates shortfall will be made up centrally as €6 billion package announced
Minister Heather Humphreys

05 May 2020 / business Print

Rates shortfall will be made up centrally as €6 billion package announced

A special Cabinet meeting at the weekend has set out significant additional supports for businesses to restart, reconnect and rehire staff who have been laid off or furloughed. 

Those measures are:

  • A €10,000 restart grant for micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019,
  • A three month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses,
  • A €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms,
  • A €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to support lending to SMEs for terms ranging from three months to six years, which will be below market interest rates,
  • The ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of twelve months after recommencement of trading during which time there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt, 
  • The waiving of commercial rates for a three month period beginning on 27 March for businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements,
  • Provision of a Restart Fund for micro and small businesses of €250 million for micro and small enterprises,
  • A commitment to local authorities to make up the rates shortfall so that local authorities can continue to provide full services to the public.

Low-cost loans

Business minister Heather Humphreys said: “We now have a comprehensive suite 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 our SMEs.

“The new €250 million Restart Fund in particular will be a critically important tool to support small businesses in our towns and villages to reopen their doors and get back on their feet with supports of up to €10,000 available.”

Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government, Eoghan Murphy said:

“The commercial rates waiver is an important response from Government. This will provide relief to impacted businesses as well as certainty to local authorities as to their funding.

"Rates alleviation will be complemented by the establishment of a Restart Fund for micro and small businesses which would provide a further €250m to support ratepayers. 

Waiver scheme 

“The fund, which will provide up to €10,000 per business, will be implemented either through a rebate or waiver scheme based on rates payment for 2019, and will be targeted more widely at micro and small enterprises that have suffered large falls in revenue as a result of the crisis.”

Cash flow

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed said: “I have worked with my colleagues to ensure that our primary producers (farmers and fishers) would be included in the new Scheme and I am now happy to confirm that they will.

"Cashflow and liquidity is a key issue right along the food chain and this Scheme will give confidence to all businesses that assistance will be available when required.”

In addition, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe also welcomed the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland announcement of an extension of payment breaks for businesses and households to six months for those requiring assistance, which is being provided to bank and non-bank customers impacted by COVID-19.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) is revising its investment strategy to establish a sub-portfolio within ISIF called the Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund


This sub-portfolio will invest up to €2 billion of ISIF’s readily available capital in medium and large enterprises (more than €50m in annual revenue or more than 250 employees) to assist them to meet the challenge of COVID-19. 

The ISIF Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund will:

  • Act as an accelerator, investing on a commercial basis in businesses that can meet the investment requirements and can use ISIF investment to return to long-term viability,  
  • Investments can be across the range of instruments from senior debt, hybrid instruments to equity, and can be tailored to take account of the particular circumstances of each investee.  This will enable businesses to access the capital they need in the most appropriate form that best suits their individual circumstances.
  • In making investments, ISIF will seek to maximise the quantum of additional capital that the investee business can access from its existing shareholders and banks, from potential new co-investors and from European sources (such as the European Investment Bank), thereby minimising the amount of ISIF capital that may be needed.  To date, ISIF has led to overall investment levels of three times ISIF’s initial investment.  

Further details are available on the ISIF website.

Liquidity measures

The €1 billion of liquidity measures in place for SMEs reorient existing supports for SME credit and add additional measures such as repurposing the Brexit Loan Scheme, with the agreement of the European Investment Fund, to become the SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme. 

Loan size

Minister Humphreys also announced an expansion in this scheme to bring it to €450 million, an expansion in the Future Growth Loan Scheme to above its original allocation of €300 million, and improvements in the maximum loan size available to COVID-19 affected microenterprises from Microfinance Ireland along with reductions in the interest rates. 

Micro-enterprises can avail of loans of up to €50,000 with no interest and principal repayments in the first six months. 

Law Society Support Services has produced a useful updated briefing on all the supports available. This is available on the Law Society website.


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