Last week’s Financial Stimulus Plan budget has provided a number of new supports foroperators. This note provides details on these new measures contained within the Stimulus Plan, as well as other recent supports, all of which may be relevant to your business. The information has been prepared from various sources, in particular from information received from Fáilte Ireland.
Assistance with Grants
Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme
The Government has agreed with the CTTC request to provide help to the coach tourism sector. While welcome, the amount given of €10m is lower than the €32m which we requested. We will be contacting the Government and Fáilte Ireland to discuss how the scheme is to be implemented.
Grant Support for Scheduled Services
The Government has agreed to provide funding to allow operators to resume scheduled services. Initial contracts are now being issued by the NTA to operators. The CTTC is meeting with the NTA and with operators to try and ensure that the contractual process is smooth, efficient and quick.
Fáilte Ireland Adaptation Grant
€26m will be made available for tourism and hospitality businesses to support the costs they have of physically adapting their facilities to allow them to operate in the pandemic. These funds will be provided in addition to any funding that eligible businesses receive from the Restart Grant.
Fáilte Ireland has already been in contact with the CTTC to get some base information and statistics about the sector. It is expected that further details will be provided shortly.
School Buses Adaption Grant
Funding will also be made available to School Bus Operators to make alterations to their vehicles in advance of the recommencement of school services.
A further €300m is being provided to businesses through the enhanced Restart Grant.The maximum grant available will rise to €25,000 (up from €10,000) and the minimum payment will be €4,000 (up from €2,000). Firms that accessed the Restart Grant will be eligible to apply for a second top-up payment to a total combined value of the revised minimum and maximum grant levels. The criteria for accessing the scheme will include Enterprises that have:
- 250 employees or less.
- Turnover of less than €100,000 per employee.
- Reduced turnover by 25% as a result of COVID-19.
Under the revised Restart Grant, support will also be provided for enterprises that could not access the original grant scheme.
Assistance with Staff
The Wage SupportScheme
The new Employment Wage Support Scheme (EWSS)will replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) from the 1September 2020. Both schemes will run in parallel from 31 July until then.The EWSS will be in place until 31 March 2021.
Operators whose turnover has fallen 30% from 2019 figures will receive a flat-rate subsidy of up to €203 per weekper employee, including for seasonal staff and new employees.
To provide additional flexibility in circumstances where employees were not previously eligible to be paid via TWSS,for example in the case of new hires and certain seasonal workers, employers who have already availed of theTWSS may make an additional claim for non-TWSS employees from 31 July and someclaims may be backdated for employees who have been paid from 1 July. The level of subsidy the employer will receive is as follows:
- For every employee paid more than €203 gross pw, the level of subsidy is €203 pw.
- For every employee paid between €151.50 and €202.99 gross pw, the subsidy is €151.50 pw.
- A nil subsidy is payable for employees paid less than €151.50 or more than €1,462 gross pw.
- A 0.5% rate of employers PRSI will be applied for jobs that are eligible for the subsidy.
Based on the minimum wage of €10.10, these rates will require at least 15 hours pw of paid work.The scheme will be administered by Revenue and continue to operate on a “self-assessment” basis with employersmaking declarations as to their eligibility. Payments will be made in line with the employers regular payrollsystems.
Note that the EWSS will re-establish the normal requirement to operate PAYE on all employee salaries providing for theregular deduction and remittance of income tax, USC and employee PRSI.The EWSS does not affect any legal obligations that the employer may have to theiremployee.
Pandemic Unemployment Payment
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be closed to new entrants from September 17th, 2020, and on that date the following scheme changes will apply:
- A top rate of €300 (down from €350) for those who earned over €300 pw prior to COVID-19.
- A medium rate of €250 (down from €350) for those who earned €200-€300 pw previously.
- A base rate of €203 (no change) for those who earned less than €200 pw previously.
It will be amended again from Feb 1st, 2021.
- Those who earned €200-€300 pre-pandemic will move from the €250 Pandemic Unemployment Payment rate to Jobseekers’ Benefit of €203.
- Those who previously earned over €300 will see their PUP payment fall to €250.
After 1 month the scheme will close on April 1st, 2021 and all remaining claimants will be required to apply for the standard Jobseekers’ Allowance.
Assistance with Tax Payments
Income Tax Relief
A change will be made to provide for a new once-off income tax relief for self-employed operators who were profitable in 2019 but, as a result of COVID-19, incur losses in 2020.
These provisions will allow these operators to claim to have those losses (and certain unused capital allowances)up to a maximum amount of €25,000 carried back and deducted from their profits for the tax year 2019. This will reduce the amount of income tax payable in respect of those profits.
The provisions will also allow for claims for the relief to be made on an interim basis to give a cash flow boost to those operators during 2020.
Operators that pay corporation tax that were profitable in 2019 but incurred a loss due to COVID-19 in 2020 will be able to claim a refund of tax paid of some or all of corporation tax paid.
Legislation will allow for operators to delay payment of their PAYE and VAT debts in part of in full for a set period with no interest or penalties.
Assistance with Waivers
Commercial Rates Waiver
Bus and Coach Owners will be given a waiver of commercial rates for the six months to end September 2020.
Assistance with Loans and Credits
COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme
This €2 billion credit guarantee scheme will be through the Pillar Banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank). The Government will act as guarantor for 80% of loans drawn down.
Loan facilities of between €10,000 to €1m will be available at terms of between 3 months to 6 years. Interest rates to be in region of 3-4% with capital and interest repayment moratorium of up a year.
The scheme will operate by providing an 80% guarantee to participating finance providers on qualifying loans to SMEs. SMEs will be able to go directly to the banks in the Scheme to apply.
Microfinance Ireland/ Local Enterprise Offices
A package of liquidity and enterprise investment measures worth €55 million will be put in place to support small and micro companies through additional resources for MicroFinance Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.
This will include measures to reduce interest rates on lending for micro and small businesses, including grants equivalent to 0% interest on the first year of SBCI and MFI loans.
Future Growth Loan Scheme
The Future Growth Loan Scheme is being expanded from €200 million to €500 million. This scheme will be available to eligible SME and Small Mid-Cap businesses (up to 499 employees).Loans will range from €100,000 (€50,000 for farmers) to €3 million per eligible business, with unsecured loans up to €500,000.For loans in excess of €250,000, a Business Plan must be completed.
The initial maximum interest rate is capped at 4.5% for loans up to €249,999 and 3.5% for loans more than or equal to €250,000 for the first six months.