As we prepare to reopen following the Government Roadmap, we must take time to familiarise ourselves with what our businesses will have to do to reopen safely. Attached, you will find the policy document the government have issued. The Protocol should be used by all workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has created severe challenges for Irish businesses with an uncertain road ahead. Below is a list of supports available to businesses during this unprecedented time. There are three main sections:
- LEO Supports
- Government Supports
- Practical Steps
1. LEO Supports
Business Continuity Voucher
In conjunction with your Local Enterprise Office, this grant is an excellent support to help any engineering business through this difficult time. It offers €2,500 towards consultancy costs to aid with finance, HR, supply chain, marketing, digitisation issues and more to enable businesses to continue trading through this crisis. Application closing date 15th May 2020.
Cork North & West: https://corknorthandwestleo.submit.com/show/33
Trading Online Voucher
The TOV is a grant offering up to €2,500 for a business to develop or enhance their ability to trade online. I would urge any Engineering firm who is eligible for this and who has not availed of this in the past to apply for it to build a strong online presence and/or upgrade your website. If you have applied for this previously then there is a second online trading voucher available to businesses.
Your Local Enterprise Office is offering to cover up to 90% of the costs involved in getting your business online where previously it assisted with 50%. This enhanced assistance is available until September 30th 2020 after which it will revert to original supports.
New Covid-19 Business Loan
The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices, is a Government-funded initiative to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty. This is a business loan of between €5,000 and €50,000 and is designed for micro-enterprises that are:
a) having difficulty accessing Bank finance and
b) impacted, or may be impacted negatively, by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in turnover or profit.
LEO are now offering Mentoring supports free of charge to develop robust strategies, identify possible issues and maximise potential opportunities when Covid-19 crisis comes to an end.
Cork North & West: https://www.localenterprise.ie/CorkNorthandWest/Training-Events/Mentoring/
Training and Webinars
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 free of charge and places can be booked online, through the links below
LEAN for Micro
LEAN for Micro is available to LEO clients to help build resilience within small companies. Under this programme, clients can avail of consultancy support with a LEAN Expert (a qualified practitioner), who will work with the company to introduce lean principles, undertake a specific cost savings project and assist the company in benchmarking its performance. LEAN for Micro can also be used to help implement new remote working and physical distancing guidelines.
Cork North & West: https://www.localenterprise.ie/CorkNorthandWest/
Other LEO Financial Supports
For existing companies and potential start-ups that meet eligibility criteria (such as employing 10 or fewer people with the potential for growth and job creation), Local Enterprise Offices can offer additional financial supports to help manage current market challenges:
- Business Priming Grants*
- Business Expansion Grants*
- Feasibility Study Grants*
- Technical Assistance for Micro-Exporters Grant*
Please note: *For LEO Financial Supports, further eligibility criteria apply.
Cork North & West: https://www.localenterprise.ie/CorkNorthandWest/Financial-Supports/
Covid-19: An Employer’s Guide
The HR Suite in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland have developed a guide for employers. The guide provides direction to Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies on how they should manage the Covid-19 situation from an employer/employee perspective. It may also be relevant to other SME and large companies operating in Ireland. It covers topics such as the current situation, Your obligations as an employer, Examples of preventative and precautionary measures, Covid-19 company response template and others.
Covid – 19 Financial Planning Grant
The grant 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 (including Enterprise Ireland). The Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, will enable companies to access external support from approved financial consultants to prepare a financial plan to secure the company in the short to medium terms. Click below for more information.
Sustaining Enterprise Fund
This €180m Fund is open to eligible companies which:
- Employ 10 or more full-time employees
- Are operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors
- For SMEs – have applied for funding from a financial institution, including, where appropriate, through the SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Loan/Future Growth Loan Schemes
- For large companies – have applied for funding with an appropriate financial institution.
- Businesses qualifying under this EU-supported scheme will be offered a repayable advance of up to €800,000.
SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme
Working Capital is the liquid assets that finances the day to day running of our businesses. This loan is for innovative businesses and the link below outlines eligibility criteria. It is noted that in a similar scheme operated by the SBCI for Brexit impacted businesses, of the applications to date for eligibility to that scheme, less than 1% have been declined due to not meeting the innovation criteria.
If your liquid assets (including cash flow for operational purposes) are impacted by Covid-19, you can apply for a loan between €25,000 and €1.5 million. No security is required for loans of up to €500,000. The loan period is up to 3 years and the interest rate is set at a maximum of 4%. The scheme operates until March 2021 or until the scheme has been fully subscribed. There is a link on the Local Enterprise Office website and below.
Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme
This government scheme is aimed at SMEs who are affected by a minimum of 25% decline in turnover as a direct result of Covid 19 and are struggling to pay employees but are keeping them on payroll. We all know it is difficult to recruit staff within the Engineering industry and most Engineering firms are doing their best to hold on to the staff in which they have invested. This scheme can help Engineering firms ensure they keep staff on payroll while reducing the cost of employing them. It can be particularly useful for staff who are on reduced working hours. The rates of pay were updated on 04th May 2020 and differ for employees earning up to €586 per week and those earning over €586 per week. It is expected this scheme will run until 18th June 2020.
Other Government Supports:
3. Practical Steps
Talk to your bank
All banks have stated that they will offer flexibility to their customers. They are open to discussions regarding payment holidays, emergency working capital facilities and other supports.
Take steps to manage your cashflows now
- Look at your spending – can you lower/renegotiate your costs (e.g. insurance, rent, etc), can you delay discretionary expenditure?
- Speak with your suppliers – are they willing to extend your repayment contract?
- Speak with your debtors – can you expedite your accounts receivable?
Engage with the Revenue Commissioners
Revenue Commissioners have provided guidance on areas including
- debt enforcement
- RCT measures suspension of interest
- retention of tax clearance status
- guidance on e-working
- tax relief
If you feel like you might need to speak with the Revenue Commissioners, you can contact:
Revenue Regional Office Cork: 021 602 7000