The BT Blog #7


The Enterprise Support Grant for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Who can apply & What costs are covered?

While there have been a raft of financial measures introduced by Government to help aid businesses affected by COVID-19, and particularly as part of the recent July Stimulus Package, one that will be of particular interest to Ireland’s struggling micro-enterprise sector is the Enterprise Support Grant, restructured as the Enterprise Support Grant for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Grant has been recently revamped and will now apply as a once-off payment to eligible small businesses to assist with their re-opening costs. Plumbers, beauticians, taxi drivers and micro-entrepreneurs of all kinds read on…

The most vulnerable economic group to the damage wrought by the COVID pandemic has been sole traders and micro-enterprises. These enterprises form the back-bone of Ireland’s economy, with micro-enterprises i.e. those with less than 10 employees, accounting for 92.1% of all enterprises in the country in 2017[1]. For many of these sole-traders and small firms, the ability to bounce back from the pandemic will likely be highly contingent upon financial support and aid from the Government.

One of the most recent supports announced by Government has been the extension of the Enterprise Support Grant (ESG) to assist eligible business owners, who have come off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) in recent weeks, to restart their business via a once-off payment. The grant, administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, has hitherto been in place to provide financial support to new businesses and entrepreneurs in conjunction with the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme. This program helps eligible individuals who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who have a business idea, to get set up and become self-employed. While the primary focus of the ESG prior to the pandemic was to support enterprises set up under the BTWEA scheme, it has now been extended to support self-employed people who were in receipt of the PUP but who have since closed their payment on, or after, the 18th May 2020.

Wider access to this grant will provide an important source of financial support to many professionals such as electricians, hairdressers, gardeners, and many others, who want to restart their business but who may be facing hefty opening costs incurred by PPE, cleaning and sanitary products, compliance costs, and signage to name a few.

What is the Enterprise Support Grant for businesses impacted by COVID-19?

The grant is a once-off payment, available to an upper ceiling of €1,000, which is aimed specifically at helping those businesses and business owners who had to close due to the pandemic with their reopening costs. Applications for the scheme opened on the 14th August.

Who is eligible?

Business owners in receipt of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance who closed their claim on, or after, the 18th May can apply for the scheme. Businesses which are not liable for commercial rates, and therefore which cannot be considered for the COVID-19 Business Restart Grant or other re-opening grants, are also eligible.

Additional eligibility requirements ask that applicants:

  • Are fully tax and PRSI compliant
  • Employ less than 10 people
  • Have an annual turnover of less than €1million

What costs are eligible? (this is not an exhaustive list – further inquiries should be directed to your local Enterprise Office)

The Department states that eligible costs must be related to the restart of an applying business. Costs incurred since 13th March can be included in applications and include the following areas:

• Capital costs incurred for the purchase of equipment including signage and PPE

• Repairs, maintenance, and installation of safety measures

• Business training, mentoring and coaching

• Advertising and marketing

• Salaries (accompanied by payslips where the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme is not payable)

• Vehicle running costs including fuel

• Accountancy and related services, and legal advice

• Public liability and indemnity insurance costs

What costs are not eligible? (not an exhaustive list)

  • Van insurance
  • Building/premises rental costs
  • Cost of travel (airline tickets, business trips, foreign travel, conferences)
  • Insurance (except public liability)
  • Personal clothing and uniforms (except protective clothing)
  • Professional development programmes and membership fees arranged by professional and regulatory bodies
  • Purchase of any type of vehicle
  • Renovations to premises (not owned by the jobseeker)
  • Stock-in-trade
  • Training or education other than that specified
  • Utility costs (electricity, water supply, communications such as telephone and broadband), connection or supply and local authority rates

Where to apply

Applicants can download the COVID-19 ESG 1 application form and return it their local Intreo Centre. Applicants are asked to retain all receipts and invoices in respect of the payment for a duration of one year from payment date for possible inspection.

To conclude, we can consider the results of the latest Business Impact of COVID-19 Survey from the CSO, which was published recently. The report showed that more than four in ten (44.5%) micro-enterprises have restarting trading up to the 28th of June. That’s very positive news. While it’s apparent that the road to recovery will be a long one for Ireland’s micro-enterprises, it has begun, and these types of measures and supports, which importantly are grant aid rather than loan based, will go a long way to helping our vulnerable business communities get back on their feet.