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The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme

The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme

We have discussed Covid-19 business supports at length since the onset of this global emergency, while also discussing the vital nature of the SME area in Ireland. SMEs make up a huge portion of Irish businesses, and whilst last years looming Brexit panic may have seemed like an enormous threat to their business activities, this year has proven the ultimate challenge. With this in mind today we will be discussing another area of assistance for these types of businesses both in the wake of Covid and in the realm of what the new normal will look like.

The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme is intended to encourage additional lending to SMEs, something we can all agree is absolutely essential. This scheme offers a partial Government guarantee of 80% to banks against losses, essentially placing the Government as a guarantor against the SME’s loan. The scheme is aimed at SMEs facing difficulty in accessing traditional lending and is operated on behalf of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SCBI) and is accessible from lenders such as AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. These loans are available to fund working capital, refinancing current Covid19 funding and also in order to invest in your business so it can adapt to the current emergency.

Loans range from €10,000 to €1million and can have a term of up to 7 years. A guaranteed premium will apply to be paid directly to the Government. The scheme is available until December 2020. We recommend checking in with your local banking branch for further information and eligibility requirements.

As always, we here at Ecovis DCA are available should you have any concerns or queries on any business or financial matters.

For more information visit Enterprise.gov.ie

The Help to Buy Incentive

The Help to Buy (HTB) Incentive

The Help to Buy (HTB) incentive is a scheme introduced in 2014 aimed at assisting first time buyers in getting a foothold on the property ladder and helping them to navigate the newer and stricter mortgage rules for prospective homeowners. The scheme is intended to help first time buyers with the deposit needed to build or purchase a new home. The scheme will give you a refund of the Income Tax and DIRT paid over the previous four years which is then used as the partial or full deposit.

 

The scheme has undoubtedly already helped many first-time buyers purchase their homes, but it has also come under fire in recent months as it has been suggested that the scheme has driven up house prices, thereby excluding more prospective buyers from the market. It has also been suggested that the scheme has aided many who were not in fact relying on it, and who already have the means to purchase their home.

 

This scheme was not only extended to the end of 2021 but enhanced in the July Stimulus plan and now allows for first time buyers to claim back the lower of either 10% of a property’s value or €30,000. For homes purchased after January 1st, 2017, the refund will be paid directly to the contractor.

 

Applications for the scheme must be made online via the myAccount or Revenue Online services.

 

We advise checking the Revenue website for information on contractors and developers taking part in the scheme as a first port of call. Should you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Phased Payment Plan

The Phased Payment Plan – (PPA)

We have dedicated ourselves over the past couple of months to sharing important information with our clients and friends, information which could assist in keeping businesses alive and kicking during such a difficult time, as our country begins to play hopscotch between the levels within the Living with Covid Plan.

As we discussed in recent weeks, a number of extensions have been granted which may assist businesses in filing on time, despite the ongoing challenges posed by the Coronavirus Emergency. It was announced recently that companies would be given more time to pay any outstanding tax bills to Revenue using a payment plan at a discounted rate of interest and would have until the end of September to agree.

Previously the July stimulus package allowed the warehousing of Covid tax debts until a period of reopening, as well as offering a level of amnesty on non-Covid tax debts. This saw a phased payment plan (PPA) enacted by Revenue wherein companies could repay their outstanding dates at a 3% interest rate over a phased plan. The deadline for putting this arrangement in place has now been extended to the end of October, which may allow for many other companies to avail of this plan.

Revenue themselves issued a statement stating that the extension was due to the challenges faced by taxpayers and tax agents during this time, while Collector General Joe Howley state that:

“The 3% interest rate available to taxpayers under this measure is a significant reduction from standard interest rates of 8% to 10% per annum that normally apply to late payments of tax. I strongly encourage the uptake of this opportunity and of the extended deadline that now applies”.

Another bonus to partaking in this PPA is that your company may qualify for tax clearance as a result of utilising this plan of debt payment.

Visit the Revenue site for more information on this and other matters, including a comprehensive booklet here Revenue information booklet .

We hope that this information is of use to you, and as always, we are fully available should you have any queries or concerns on any business and financial matters.

The Restart Grant Plus Scheme

Here at EcovisDCA, we are as always aiming to help Irish SMEs flourish. The current emergency has been a troubling time for all business owners, with SMEs being some of the most vulnerable by nature. We are committed to providing you with all the information available which could assist your business in flourishing in the face of this new adversity.

The Restart Grant Plus scheme offers a grant to businesses in order to help them to reopen their premises and return to work following the Covid-19 crisis. The grants available range is from €4,000 to a maximum of €25,000. The scheme has been increased from a previous minimum of €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000.

The Restart Grant scheme will be based on the rates assessment for the business for the 2019 year and is primarily available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as independent hotels. The scheme is now also available to sectors such as sports businesses, charity shops, restaurants, pubs, activity centres, and tourist attractions.

If your company has utilised this scheme previously, you may still be eligible to apply for a second payment, this second payment will only reach a total combined value of the new maximum value. In the event that your company was unable to access funding from the scheme but now qualifies, you will be entitled to make a new application.

The requirements for accessing this grant are that the company must have:

  • Between 0 – 250 employees.
  • Eligible firms now include medium-sized firms and independent hotels with up to 250 employees, as well as small firms (increased from 50 employees).
  • A turnover of less than €100,000 per employee up to a maximum of €25million.
  • Operating from a premises that is commercially rateable by a local authority.
  • A reduced level of turnover of 25% as a result of the Covid-19.
  • Committed to a reopening plan and remain committed to sustaining employment levels.
  • Intention to retain employees that are on the temporary wage subsidy scheme.
  • B&Bs in non-rated premises will be eligible to apply for the minimum €4,000 grant from Fáilte Ireland.
  • A franchisee which is a financially independent company and is completely separate to the franchisor is eligible to apply.
  • Multinationals are not eligible. Small Irish based subsidiaries with overseas parent companies are not eligible.

The aim is that applications will be processed, and an answer received within two weeks of application. Applications can be made through your local authority website.

As always, we here at EcovisDCA are here for you. Should you require any assistance or guidance on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Research and Development (R&D) Credit: Appointment of expert to assist in audits

Revenue have recently released a manual setting out the Revenue procedure for appointing and briefing an independent expert to assist in evaluating the science test in R&D tax credit audits.

By way of background, each year, Revenue’s Incentives unit places an advertisement on the public procurement website, www.etenders.gov.ie1 , inviting applications for placement on a panel of experts to advise in relation to claims for tax credits in respect of incremental expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively on R&D.

Applications for membership of the panel will be accepted at any time during the year. In order, to be eligible to apply for a place on the panel, individuals must hold a relevant PhD or experiential equivalent. Where an independent expert is required in a field that is not represented on the panel formed from the above process, the Incentives unit will identify suitable experts and approach them with a view to their joining the panel.

The appropriate timing for appointing an independent expert will vary from case to case. In some cases, it will be necessary to appoint an independent expert at the outset of a review while in others one may only be required where Revenue and the company reach an impasse in relation to an aspect of the science test.

Independent experts should not be engaged to explain the science: they should only be engaged where there is a doubt that the science test has been met.

Full details of the manual and procedure can be found here

 

 

Euro Currency

Alternative Lending

Flender

Flender Ireland  is a Peer to Peer Lender for small and medium sized business. It is authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. Flender offer the  following products:

 

Term Loans

Flender offers businesses access to fast funding up to €300,000. Get a credit decision within 6 hours and receive funds within 24 hours. Terms range from 6 to 36 months, with rates starting as low as 6.45%.

In order to apply for a term loan companies / sole traders need:

  • Completed Application form
  • Last 2 years Filed Accounts – Unabridged version with P & L and Balance Sheet
  • Last 2 years Revenue Filed Form 11s (if sole trader)
  • Up to date Management accounts if available
  • Last 6 months bank statements
  • Up to date tax cert – (Tax Ref Number & Access Number ID)

Applications are made on line at : https://www.flender.ie/users/registration/borrower

 

Merchant Cash Advance

Online merchants and other businesses that conduct a majority of their sales online are prime candidates for our MCA product. Since businesses of this nature receive payment primarily via credit card purchases, the monthly payment amount is less when a business is making less revenue and increases when the business makes more revenue. If you earn revenue via check or cash, an MCA probably isn’t right for you.

 

  • Works with natural trade cycles – ideal for retail, hospitality and service businesses
  • Repayments made daily as a small percentage of card terminal revenues
  • Lump sum funding from €10,000 to €250,000
  • Terms from 3 to 12 months
  • Repayments made directly through merchant card processors

 

For further information please contact:

Ecovis DCA

Stephen Connolly – Stephen.connolly@ecovis.ie

Dennis Duffy  – dennis.duffy@ecovis.ie

 

Flender

Colin Canny  – colin.canny@flender.ie

 

Linked Finance

Covid 19 Emergency Loan Product

Linked Finance has launched a Deferred Start Loan for businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It means businesses can get access to working capital now, with the reassurance of no repayments for the first 3 months.

After the first 3 months payment-free, the loan is then repaid over a 12 month period.

Loans are available up to €100,000 to businesses that are trading for at least 2 years and have a (pre-crisis) annual turnover in excess of €100,000. As with their standard loans, the application process is very simple, just three standard documents, no projections and a credit decision will be given in 24 hours

Any established and creditworthy business, whether it is a limited company, sole trader or business partnership, can apply for a loan on Linked Finance.

In order to apply for this facility companies / sole traders will need:

  • Last 6 full calendar months bank statements i.e. Sept 1st to Feb 29th.
  • Proof of overdraft (IF ANY) Even online screen-print is fine
  • Latest full set of accounts to include Admin Expenses breakdown

Some conditions apply. These include:

  • If you are a sole trader, you must be a permanent resident of Ireland.
  • If your business is a partnership, it must have a permanent place of business in Ireland and at least half of its partners must be permanent residents of Ireland.
  • If your business is a limited company, it must be registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).
  • It must have filed accounts with the CRO (if required to do so) at least once and at least half of its directors must be Irish residents.
  • Your business must have been actively trading for at least the past two years.
  • Your business must meet our minimum credit risk and fraud criteria.
  • Your business must not have any outstanding judgements for more than €250.
  • In special circumstances, we can support younger companies who have demonstrated strong growth potential over a shorter trading history but this is at Linked Finance’s sole discretion.

For further information please contact

Ecovis DCA

Stephen Connolly – Stephen.connolly@ecovis.ie

Dennis Duffy  – dennis.duffy@ecovis.ie

Linked Finance

Mark Lindsey – mark@linkedfinance.com

Lay off procedures

Do I need to pay employees sick pay?

If an employee presents a medical certificate for any reason, including contraction of the virus or self-isolation, you should follow your sick pay policy as normal.

If an employee contracts Coronavirus (COVD-19) or is medically instructed to self-isolate, they will be entitled to received €305 per week from the Department of Social Protection. This payment is up to 2 weeks for self-isolation and for the duration of the illness if contracted.

Can I place employees on a period of lay-off?

A ‘lay-off’ situation can occur when there is an unexpected downturn in the business that is out of the Company’s control. If you have no work for the employee, and/or the Business is under extreme financial pressure, you can place an employee on lay-off.

Lay-off is viewed as being a temporary situation, so employers should be aware that if lay-off lasts for a certain length of time, the employee may be entitled to seek a redundancy payment.

If you are considering placing an employee on lay-off, you need to ensure you have a business justification for doing so. If your decision was ever challenged in the WRC, you will need to show your reasoning.

Can I put some staff on lay off while others work?

In relation to choosing employees for the reduction/short time, the criteria should be reasonable and applied in a fair manner. The last in, first out is deemed as appropriate, or by department based on the tasks that they are completing.

What is the process for placing employees on lay-off?

You must have a lay off clause in the employees’ contract of employment.

Lay Off

You as the employer would need to inform your employees that you are placing them on lay off and issue them with the relevant notification (Form RP9) confirming this.

Employees are not paid during a period of lay off, they can claim Social Welfare during this period. If an employee is on lay off from a business for a period of four weeks, they can request to be made redundant, if they have in excess of 2 years’ service. If this happens, there will be a cost involved for the company.

Short Time

When employees are placed on short time this requires that they be reduced to 50% or less of their normal working hours. When on short time employees may apply for Social Welfare to make up the rest of the week. It is important that the hours do not go above 50% while the period of short time continues.

 

With regards to redundancy claims under both of these systems;

Lay-off and short-time are viewed as being temporary situations, so  you as the employer should be aware that if either the lay-off or short-time working lasts for a certain length of time, the employee may be entitled to seek a redundancy payment.

This occurs when the employee has been laid off or kept on short-time (or a combination of both) for either

  • At least four consecutive weeks or,
  • within a 13-week period, for a series of at least six weeks of which not more than three were consecutive

Within 4 weeks of either of the above situations ceasing, the employee can decide to claim redundancy. The claim must be made on the form RP9. Once the employer receives this form s/he has two options:

  • S/he can accept it and pay the redundancy lump sum thereby accepting that there is a termination of employment; or
  • S/he can give a counter notice within seven days to the employee contesting their claim for redundancy.

Counter Notice

By issuing a counter notice the employer promises that within four weeks the employee will be employed for a period of 13 consecutive weeks.

If this does not happen, the counter notice is invalid and the employee is entitled to a redundancy payment. The employee is entitled to statutory redundancy only. S/he is not entitled to a notice payment, as s/he is the party terminating the employment.

Form RP9 – Lay-off and short time procedures

Banking supports

Micro Finance Ireland

If your business is impacted or may be impacted by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in actual or projected turnover or profit, AND you are having difficulty in accessing  finance from commercial lending providers, the MFI COVID-19 Business Loan may be able to help your business.

In addition, Local Enterprise Offices in every county provide a range of business supports for micro- enterprises including business continuity and preparedness advisory supports connected to the  COVID-19 outbreak. Contact your Local Enterprise Office for more information.

Eligibility

  • Any business (Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company) with less than 10 employees and annual turnover of up to €2m
  • Not in a position to avail of finance from Banks and other commercial lending providers
  • 15% of actual or projected turnover or profit is negatively impacted by COVID-19

Product Features

  • Loans from €5,000 – €50,000
  • Supports businesses who have been impacted negatively by coronavirus in Ireland
  • Loan terms typically up to 3 years
  • Up to 6 months Interest only payments
  • No fees/no hidden costs/charges
  • Fixed repayments/no penalty for early repayment

Application process

Application documentation can be found at this web addresshttps://microfinanceireland.ie/loan-packages/covid19/

  • Complete application form
  • Prepare monthly cash flow forecast for 12 months
  • Complete Micro Finance Ireland Business Plan
  • Submit six months bank statements and in the case of a Limited company six months bank statements for Directors and Shareholders holding 25% or more of the issued share capital of the company.
  • For Limited company applicants only – A central Credit Register report for each Director and for any Shareholders holding 25% or more of the issued share capital of the company.

Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation announced a number of supports for businesses facing challenges being presented by the current Covid-19 situation. The Credit Guarantee Scheme is in place and available now to SMEs subject to the relevant terms and conditions. Separately the SBCI is currently working to finalise the terms and conditions of the SBCI COVID19 Working Capital Scheme and the eligibility application process for this. The SBCI website will be updated as soon as these are finalised. In the interim if you wish to be kept informed on developments please email the SBCI at info@sbci.gov.ie

SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) 

The Scheme aims to assist viable SMEs, which under normal lending criteria are unable to borrow from their bank, in accessing credit. The scheme operates by providing an 80% guarantee to participating finance providers (currently AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank) on qualifying loans to SMEs.

The Scheme is operated on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (D/BEI) by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and is available from the participating banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank). If you are an SME,  you can approach any one of the participating banks and apply for a loan facility under CGS.

Key Features of the Scheme:

  • Facilities of €10,000 up to €1m
  • Terms of up to 7 years
  • Term Loans, Demand Loans and Performance Bonds

 

Who is eligible for the Scheme? 

SMEs may be eligible if they:

  • Are involved in a commercial activity
  • Are a sole trader, partnership, franchise, co-operative or limited company
  • In the lender’s opinion have a viable business proposal
  • Are able to repay the facility

 

How to apply do for the scheme

The scheme is available through participating lenders AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank at the web addresses below:

AIB : https://business.aib.ie/products/finance-and-loans/credit-guarantee-scheme

BOI : https://businessbanking.bankofireland.com/credit/credit-guarantee-scheme/

Ulster Bank : https://digital.ulsterbank.ie/business/loans-and-finance/alternative-financing.html

 

Allied Irish Bank (AIB)

AIB’s Covid 19 supports are available at this web address – https://aib.ie/covid19

The financial supports include the following

Cashflow products available to customers and web address for applications

Business Credit Linehttps://business.aib.ie/products/finance-and-loans/business-credit-line?_ga=2.155766331.160936585.1584353997-1581556376.1584353997

Farmer Credit Linehttps://business.aib.ie/products/finance-and-loans/business-credit-line?_ga=2.155766331.160936585.1584353997-1581556376.1584353997

Promptpay – https://business.aib.ie/products/finance-and-loans/promptpay-and-insurance-premium-finance?_ga=2.146517556.160936585.1584353997-1581556376.1584353997

Business loans of between €2,000 and €60,000 can be applied for on line at this web address : https://business.aib.ie/products/finance-and-loans/business-loans?_ga=2.185208617.160936585.1584353997-1581556376.1584353997

Customer in Difficulty (Forbearance Requests)

AIB have a number of possible solutions available depending on your circumstances

  • Capital Moratorium
  • Capital and Interest Moratorium
  • Covenant Waivers

AIB Advisors are available in branch or on the phone 1890 478 833

 

Bank of Ireland

The supports offered by Bank of Ireland are as follows:

  • Emergency working capital, prioritising loan decisions for impacted customers, payment flexibility on loan facilities, and the provision of trade finance and foreign currency products to support sourcing products from new suppliers internationally.
  • Customers who are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their business are encouraged to make contact with their Business Relationship Manager or ring 0818 200 348.
  • Bank of Ireland sectoral experts – in agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality, health, food and beverage, and retail convenience – are also available to support customers.

A full listing of supports from BOI are at this web address: https://businessbanking.bankofireland.com/covid-19/supports-for-businesses/

 

Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank have introduced a financial assessment that is designed to evaluate your financial situation and to offer support where you need it most.

Specially trained staff will carry out a financial review. They will review your current financial situation and take you through the repayment options available. These options include:

  • Extending loan terms
  • Temporarily moving to interest only payments
  • Reduced payments on a temporary basis
  • Postponement of monthly repayments for a defined period of time

A full listing of supports from Ulster Bank are at this web address: https://digital.ulsterbank.ie/personal/help-and-support/struggling-financially.html

 

Revenue Irish Tax Firm

Revenue Announce Measures during Covid 19 Outbreak

In recent days, the news around the spread of Covid-19 has become inescapable and naturally worrying for individuals, families and business owners. Here at EcovisDCA we have and will always be committed to providing SME and larger business owners with practical and useful advice to help their businesses survive and thrive, and we intend to continue that trend during this period of adversity and whatever aftermath lies ahead.

In the brief few minutes of the recent announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar regarding the Covid 19 pandemic, it seems that Irish life and business life would be instantly changed. As all schools, childcare facilities and tourism sites would be closed for a period of at least 2 weeks, workers worried about their capacity to continue working. Following on from that, new social distancing recommendations suggesting that workers should work from home where possible and limit direct social contact in the form of group lunches and face-to-face meetings instantly changed how businesses would function in Ireland. Obviously, this is uncharted territory and something that wasn’t planned for in anyone’s business plan for 2020 so it is natural that the business landscape and our economy will suffer to some extent as a result. We here at EcovisDCA will be updating on any and all information pertaining to business life and any news that may light up the uncertain darkness we find ourselves in.

  • Due to the new recommendations and the concerns that workers had for their working capacity going forward, the Government and Revenue have announced updated advice to support workers and SMEs who may experience cashflow issues.
  • All debt enforcement activity is suspending until further notice.
  • The Relevant Contract Tax review due to take place this month is suspended until further notice.
  • A customs ‘green routing’ status will be given to critical pharmaceutical products and medicines.
  • Tax returns should continue to be sent on time.
  • Extended availability of Government subsidised or Government guaranteed loan finance will be offered to businesses affected by Covid 19.
  • Extended grant availability through Enterprise Ireland, Udaras na Gaeltachta and local Enterprise Offices specifically allocated for businesses affected by Covid 19.

Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have also become the first banks to assure their customers that practices like deferrals will be put in place for mortgage holders who may find themselves unable to keep on top of their payments during this time.

For social welfare support for self-employed please click on the links to get the latest information from Revenue:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2020/pr-130320-revenue-announce-measures-to-assist-smes-experiencing-cashflow-difficulties-arising-from-covid-19.aspx

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/press-releases/2020/pr-100320-engage-early-with-revenue-key-advice-to-businesses-experiencing-tax-payment-problems.aspx

Should you find that your business is beginning to struggle during this time, it is advisable that you contact Revenue directly to discuss your own specific case.

Covid-19

It is currently impossible to avoid the news of the Covid-19 epidemic at the moment as the situation unfolds rapidly and becomes an increased risk of becoming a global pandemic. A pandemic is an issue that we in this country would be unlikely to have prepared for in a business sense and as a result we may see this virus affect our business landscapes in ways we may not have expected. As cases begin to grow in number and community transmission begins to become more apparent, it is important for businesses to have a plan in place for keeping their employees safe.

The Government have recently published an income support and economic stimulus package which outlines the following main points for companies who may find themselves on lock down or needing to self-isolate their staff or work from home or to reduce economic impact:

  • The 6 waiting days for sick pay with a medical cert will be waived.
  • The means test requirement for Supplementary Welfare Allowance for medically certified self-isolation will be removed.
  • Self-employed individuals will now be entitled to receive either illness benefit, or non-means tested supplementary welfare allowance.
  • A €200million liquidity support fund will be available for impacted firms.
  • The existing systematic short time working scheme is available for employees who may be placed on reduced working arrangements.

On a more global scale, it has been reported that businesses worldwide are changing and adapting practises to better cope with Covid-19. Many companies in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States have immediately implemented travel restrictions or a work from home policy for the foreseeable future in order to avoid community transmission within the office space. Unfortunately, these issues will naturally cause service issues for some.

From looking at the China model which involves the businesses who were first hit and continue to deal with the fallout of the virus, a few key pointers for other businesses worldwide have been outlined:

  • Plan ahead but be prepared for the need to be adaptable as the situation develops.
  • Keep employees informed consistently so that they feel safe and protected.
  • Relocate labour where possible. In situations where employees can work from home to prevent community transmission this can be effective as well as social distancing practises in roles that can not be completed at home.
  • Utilise social media and shift some operations to an online system where possible.
  • Prepare for recovery be it fast or slow moving.
  • Look for the positive points and identify where your business can improve in the face of adversity.
  • Use the situation to become more innovative and embrace innovation within your business and your employees. Thinking on your feet is essential in such a fast moving constantly unfolding landscape of change.

This will undoubtedly be a period of unease and difficulty for many on both a business and personal level, but through following the appropriate guidelines we can endeavour to keep all feeling safe.