New €150M Government Support Package to Boost Irish SMEs

As we have stressed many times in the past, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) form the backbone of the Irish working landscape, but often struggle to find the supports they need to stay on track.
On May 15, 2024, the Government announced a new business support package worth up to €150 million, aimed at bolstering these types of companies. This initiative is designed to reduce costs, foster innovation, and ensure long-term sustainability for Irish businesses.
This new initiative introduced a range of measures aimed at immediately supporting SMEs. Key measures include:

  • Reopening the Increased Cost of Business (ICOB) Scheme for another 14 days and introducing a second payment of ICOB for businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.
  • Doubling the Innovation Grant Scheme to €10,000, encouraging more extensive R&D and technological advancements.
  • Increasing the maximum amount under the Energy Efficiency Grant Scheme to €10,000 and reducing the business contribution rate from 50% to 25%, promoting sustainable practices.
  • Raising the lending limit for Microfinance Ireland loans to €50,000 from €25,000, providing greater access to capital for small businesses.
  • Expanding the Digital for Business Consultancy Scheme to all sectors with up to 50 employees, supporting digital innovation and efficiency.
  • Introducing the National Enterprise Hub online platform for SMEs to access comprehensive information on government business supports.
  • Implementing an enhanced ‘SME Test’ to evaluate the impact of new regulations on small businesses.
  • Raising the employer PRSI threshold from €441 to €496 from October 1, 2024, to relieve financial pressure on employers with minimum wage workers.
  • Utilizing the €1.5bn surplus in the National Training Fund to future-proof workforce skills in SMEs, ensuring access to lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Waiving fees for outdoor dining for hotels, restaurants, and pubs until December 31, 2024, saving establishments approximately €125 per table.

Minister Burke emphasized the importance of these measures, stating:

“Our small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and provide much-valued employment in communities across the country. These measures represent agreement from across the government on the need to support our SMEs in the face of rising costs – while also balancing critical progress in terms of working conditions.”
Finance Minister Michael McGrath praised the package, stating:

“The package of measures being announced today is fair and balanced, and underlines the recognition across the government of the crucial role SMEs play in our economy and in communities across Ireland.”
The initiative aims to create a robust, dynamic, and resilient economy, while also continuing to support businesses which have suffered following lockdown. This comprehensive approach not only supports current SMEs but also lays the groundwork for long-term prosperity, ensuring Ireland remains competitive on the global stage. Fingers crossed we will continue to see dedicated and comprehensive supports for SMEs.