Extra supports may be launched for SMEs in Kildare, Laois and Offaly

14 Aug 2020

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As Kildare, Laois and Offaly deal with the impact of local Covid-19 restrictions, the Government is expected to offer extra supports to eligible SMEs that have been affected.

The Government is expected to launch additional economic supports later today (14 August) to help businesses in Laois, Offaly and Kildare deal with the impact of localised Covid-19 restrictions.

According to RTÉ News, this will likely introduce a 20pc top-up to the Restart Grant Plus Scheme, which was opened earlier this week as part of the Government’s July stimulus plan.

The grants available through that scheme already range from between €4,000 to €25,000, which means that the potential top-up would be a once-off payment of between €800 and €5,000.

Travel restrictions in the regions

Restrictions in Kildare, Laois and Offaly were first announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, on Friday 7 August. The restrictions were implemented in response to rising cases of Covid-19 related to clusters in meat processing plants in these counties. Martin described the localised clusters as “a serious concern”.

Residents of the three counties have been told not to travel outside of their own county, except in limited circumstances. This includes travelling to and from work, for farming purposes or for vital family reasons, including caring for children, elderly or vulnerable people, but not for social visits.

As a result of the restrictions, cinemas and gyms in the three counties have closed and restaurants and pubs can only provide takeaway services.

If restrictions end in Laois, Offaly and Kildare as planned on Sunday 23 August, the support package for the three counties will likely include a €1m fund to promote tourism in the region, according to RTÉ.

The Restart Grant Plus Scheme

The restart scheme launched on Monday (10 August) is an extension of a scheme that previously provided SMEs with grant funding awards of between €2,000 and €10,000.

Applications are now open to small and medium-sized companies with up to 250 employees. There is also increased eligibility for non-rateable B&Bs, sports clubs with commercial activities and trading charity shops.

To qualify for a grant, businesses be commercial and within the local authority rates system. Eligible businesses will need to have suffered a 25pc loss of expected turnover between 1 April and 30 June. Businesses that avail of the grants must also commit to reopening and to hiring and sustaining employment.

“Hairdressers, sports clubs, cafés, restaurants and several other businesses can use this money to help with the costs associated with reopening and adapting to what is a very different environment,” said Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, earlier this week.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic