| 10.9°C Belfast

Businesses in locked-down midland counties to receive enhanced support grants

Firms in Kildare, Laois and Offaly are to be offered support grants enhanced by up to 5,000 euro to deal with the impact.

Close

Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Businesses in locked-down midlands counties are to receive thousands of euro extra in official support.

The Government’s “restart” grant helps firms across Ireland with costs associated with reopening and re-employing workers following Covid-19 closures.

Traders hamstrung by the new shutdown amid infection clusters at meat factories will now be entitled to a 20% top-up which is worth up to 5,000 euro extra, ministers said.

It boosts the new minimum pay-out for companies in the affected areas of Kildare, Laois and Offaly to 4,800 euro, and the new maximum to 30,000, the Government said.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said the package was about providing a little bit more help to businesses there, as they manage the next couple of weeks.

“I know the restrictions have come as a blow just as they were getting back on their feet and we need to help out.

“The topped-up Restart Grant Plus will provide some much needed cash to help with the costs associated with reopening and staying open safely, and by prioritising applications from the three counties for existing grants, loans and vouchers, we are ensuring they are top of the queue for what is already available,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said once restrictions are eased, he wants people to visit the affected counties.

“We are also putting money aside for a promotional campaign. These measures, in addition to what is already available, will hopefully provide some practical assistance to manage what is an extremely difficult situation.”

His department added: “Eligible businesses will now be entitled to a 20% top-up, bringing the new minimum for affected counties to 4,800 euro and the new maximum to 30,000 euro.”

Hoteliers said the support was “wholly inadequate”.

Tim Fenn, chief executive of the Irish Hotels Federation, said: “The supports announced so far, including those contained in the July stimulus, are all welcome but they only offer short-term fixes.

“What is required is an active, intensive and prolonged public policy support framework to steer the tourism and hospitality industry through the crisis.

“This is justified by the scale of the national and regional economic output and employment at stake.”

Sole traders such as taxi drivers, plumbers and electricians who have lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for up to 1,000 euro in grant aid to help with their business costs.

Twelve million euro have been set aside for the enterprise support grant, aimed at tradespeople, taxi drivers and other “micro self-employed” business people who cannot access other Government schemes.

The one-off grants are specifically for those who had to cease operations as a result of the lockdown or have been otherwise severely affected.

To qualify, a business owner must have stopped getting the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) after May 17, when lockdown was first eased.

The grant can cover wages, new equipment, signage and personal protective equipment.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said: “This is an important grant to assist the self-employed to reopen their business.

“So if you’re a plumber, carpenter, beautician, gardener or electrician who is transitioning back to work, or the taxi driver getting your car back on the road – this grant may be of interest to you.”

The support is available to small business owners who employ fewer than 10 people, are not liable for commercial rates and have an annual turnover of less than one million euro.

It will be paid on the basis of expenditure incurred by an applicant to reopen their business, covering their costs up to 1,000 euro.

People can apply on the Department of Social Welfare website.

PA