A new group has been set up to drive the economic recovery of Laois following the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Led by Laois Chamber, the group is a partnership between Laois Chamber of Commerce, Laois County Council and the Local Enterprise Office in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders in the county.
The impact of Covid 19 has been very damaging to the social and business wellbeing of County Laois.
It has resulted in major job losses, falling incomes, a loss of consumer confidence and will continue to impact negatively for some time on the business community.
The Laois Business Recovery Group has been set up to support and stimulate recovery in business, retail, tourism and the general services sector in County Laois.
Whilst the various stakeholders have already been proactive and working towards getting Laois back up and running, this group will ensure that the county is working together to support businesses to be able to emerge stronger than before.
The principle aims of the group are to:
- assist and support the recovery of business in Co. Laois
- engage with business throughout the county on priority issues
- promote a county wide response in supporting local business
- identify financial and lending avenues accessible to business
- identify and promote best public health and safety practice in business
- identify new business opportunities in the Covid 19 environment
- support adherence to public health guidelines and to enhance consumer confidence
- collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure the availability of support and advice to targeted business sectors
Speaking about the Laois Business Recovery Group, John Mulholland, Chief Executive, Laois County Council said “it is clear that many businesses, large and small, across the county have been badly affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.
We must work together to ensure that we rebuild on the strengths of our economy and remain focused on our longer term ambitions.
We need to gather information to understand the scale of the crisis in terms of the local economy to help form our medium and longer term recovery strategies for Laois.”
Cllr Willie Aird, Cathaoirleach, Laois County Council, welcomed the establishment of this group saying “Coronavirus is having a profound impact on all parts of our economy.
“A key priority for Laois County Council is to support local businesses during these difficult and unprecedented times.”
Bernie Everard, CEO with Laois Chamber of Commerce commented “Laois Chamber of Commerce is acutely aware of the devastation that has been wreaked on the hardworking businesses in Laois, not only in terms of the financial losses but also the stress and strain on people as they grapple to come to terms with their new reality.
“Together with Laois County Council and the Local Enterprise Office, Laois Chamber will continue to listen to business and help and support them as they adapt to their changed trading circumstances.”
The Laois Business Recovery Group is open to contributions from all of business sectors.
At the outset, the group, through Laois Chamber, will be co-ordinating and facilitating sectoral conversations with businesses to analyse the present situation, the immediate challenges facing businesses, the opportunities that exist sector to sector and the support that will be required during the recovery period which in turn will enable the development of a roadmap to recovery for Co. Laois.
Laois Business Recovery Group acknowledges the economic challenges ahead for all business sectors and in particular retail, tourism/hospitality and local services and will fully support them in the reopening process over the coming months.
There is a wide range of financial supports and guidance already available to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and businesses are encouraged to engage with the relevant stakeholders to find out more about how they can avail of these supports.
Some practical steps, supports and guidance to help businesses mitigate the impact of COVID-19:
Talk to your bank
All the banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers, and they may be able to provide payment holidays or emergency working capital facilities.
Take immediate steps to manage your cashflow
Look for scope to lower variable costs; delay discretionary spend; extend your payables; expedite your receivable; explore supply chain financing options
Use available government supports for working capital
Credit Guarantee Scheme – The Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Eligibility criteria apply.
Microfinance Ireland – Microenterprises can access COVID-19 Business Loans of up to €50,000 from Microfinance Ireland.
The terms include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period.
Loans are available at an interest rate of between 4.5% and 5.5%. Businesses should apply through the Local Enterprise Office who will support them in making their application to MFI.
Working Capital Scheme – The new €450m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at gov.ie.
Sustaining Enterprise Fund – The new Sustaining Enterprise Fund up to €180 million is specifically aimed at firms operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, with 10 or more employees, that are vulnerable but viable.
The fund is operated by Enterprise Ireland, providing repayable advances of up to €800,000 as agreed with the EU under new State Aid rules.
As part of the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, Enterprise Ireland will also administer a specific Sustaining Enterprise Fund for Small Enterprise.
This fund will provide a short term working capital injection of up to €50,000 to eligible smaller companies to support business continuity and strengthen their ability to return to growth. enterprise-ireland.com
The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will focus on investment in medium and large scale enterprises in Ireland through a Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery fund. The fund, worth up to €2 billion, will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms. isif.ie
Get advice from your accountant or use the advisory support services available through the Local Enterprise Office or Laois Chamber of Commerce
Check your insurance cover
Check if your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by COVID-19.
Engage with Revenue
Revenue’s COVID-19 information and advice for taxpayers and agents provides information on Revenue services and tax and customs measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic including information on tax returns, new ‘warehousing’ of deferred tax debts and interest suspension arrangements. www.revenue.ie
Be aware of other government supports and guidance:
The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme – operated by Revenue, enables employees, whose employers are affected by the pandemic, to receive significant supports directly from their employer through the payroll system.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment – is a payment of €350 per week. It is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MyWelfare.ie is the quickest and easiest way to apply for payments – all you need is your email address, PPSN and bank account details.
Short-time Work Support – Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short-time Work Support. gov.ie
Restart Grant – The new Restart Grant through Laois County Council will give direct grant aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures.
The Grant will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or less, which were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to 30 June 2020.
The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019, or a minimum grant of €2,000, whichever is the higher, with a maximum grant of €10,000.
Businesses who are in arrears or have not yet paid their 2019 rates bill will still be eligible to apply for the grant. Application forms can be downloaded laois.ie.
Trading Online Voucher Scheme – Available through the Local Enterprise Office is designed to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees.
It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online.
Businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required. localenterprise.ie/laois
LEAN for Micro – available to Local Enterprise Office clients to help build resilience within small companies. Businesses can avail of consultancy support with a LEAN Expert or help to implement new remote working and physical distancing guidelines. localenterprise.ie/laois
COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme – is now open through Enterprise Ireland to support retail companies to enhance their digital capability.
The call is open to indigenous retailers employing 10 or more people to develop a more competitive online offer in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Grants ranging from €10,000 to €40,000 will be awarded under the competitive scheme. enterprise-ireland.com
The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant – worth up to €5,000, 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.
The grant is a new support for Enterprise Ireland clients and those manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ 10 or more full time employees. enterprise-ireland.ie
Lean Business Improvement Voucher – is available to eligible companies to access up to €2,500 in training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their businesses during the current pandemic.
It is open to small, medium or large client companies of Enterprise Ireland or Údarás na Gaeltachta (including High Potential Start-ups). The voucher may be used to obtain services from approved providers enterprise-ireland.ie
Commercial rates – are being waived for a three month period beginning on 27 March 2020 for businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements. More information from Laois County Council.
Bord Bia Navigating Change – Bord Bia’s ‘Navigating Change’ COVID-19 Response programme – offers a suite of supports for food, drink and horticulture businesses affected by COVID-19. bordbia.ie
Failte Ireland COVID-19 Business Support Hub – In response to the COVID-19 crisis and the impact on the tourism sector, the Fáilte Ireland COVID-19 Business Support Hub is targeting its supports to respond to the most urgent challenges and threats tourism businesses are now facing. failteireland.ie
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has provided details of the COVID-19 supports for artists and those working in the arts sector. chg.gov.ie
Training and Mentoring – The Local Enterprise Offices/Laois Chamber of Commerce have moved training programmes, workshops, mentoring 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 – www.localenterprise.ie/laois ; www.laoischamber.ie
Return to Work Safely
The Return to Work Safely Protocol is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, when the economy begins to slowly open up, following the temporary closure of most businesses during the worst phase of the current pandemic and can be downloaded from www.dbei.gov.ie
Other relevant websites:
- HSE information on COVID-19 www.hse.ie
- HPSC COVID-19 guidance www.hpsc.ie
- Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice www.dfa.ie
- What to do when arriving into Ireland www.gov.ie
- HSA COVID-19 guidance www.hsa.ie
- DEASP COVID-19 information for employers and employees www.gov.ie
- Competition and Consumer Protection Commission COVID-19 information hub www.ccpc.ie
- COVID-19: Guidance on the right of travellers to terminate package travel contracts www.dbei.gov.ie
- FSAI information on COVID-19 and food safety www.fsai.ie
- Central Bank COVID-19 information hub for consumers and businesses www.centralbank.ie
- EU Export Controls for Personal Protection Equipment www.dbei.gov.ie
- Data Protection and COVID-19 www.dataprotection.ie
- CIF Statements on COVID-19 and Construction www.cif.ie
- Common measures across most insurers for business customers in response to COVID-19 www.gov.ie
- COVID-19 Employment Permits System Contingency Arrangements www.dbei.gov.ie