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Funding Reluctance from SMEs

As you will no doubt know by now, we are massive supporters of Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These small and often unsung heroes of the Irish business world form the backbone of Irish business and make up more than half of all Irish businesses. As such, we have long been supporters of these businesses and championed their successes. In recent months we have spoken about funding opportunities available to these forms of business as well as the ways in which they can be protected and encouraged to grow.

The term Brexit is one which has been utilised so much in recent months that it has almost lost all meaning entirely. Terms like “hard Brexit” strike fear into the hearts of many Irish businesses who have dealings with the UK, and the constant shifting of deadlines and back and forth makes it difficult for businesses to implement sufficient safeguards for their businesses.

Reports this week suggest that Irish SMEs are becoming somewhat reluctant to borrow at present which may show a level of wariness in the looming shadow of uncertainty that is Brexit at present. The Strategic Banking Corporation (SCBI) was started in 2014 in others to allow access to credit for SMEs and functioned by channelling credit through other avenues. This has often been a popular choice for SMEs seeking to fund their business activities, but in the last year we have seen a major slump in uptake on this funding which even an additional Brexit loan to the scheme couldn’t fix. Figures show that 2018 saw only approximately a third of the funding taken up as was accessed in 2017. This shows that in the current climate, Irish SMEs are becoming increasingly reluctant to take their chances on accessing funding.

The SCBI themselves have said of the issues:

“The modest deployment in the nine months to end-December 2018 is a clear reflection of SMEs remaining reluctant to invest in an environment of increased uncertainty and risk as Brexit approaches.”

As things stand we remain almost none the wiser on how the Brexit issue will play out and as always, we advise having a plan in place and safeguarding your business as much as possible in advance. The current advice remains that old Irish refrain that fell from the lips of all parents at one point or another: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” In this way, your business will be protected against all eventualities and in the best position possible to flourish in the face of challenge and adversity in the current uncertain climate.

Should you have any concerns or queries on any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we will be happy to help in any way possible.

 

 

Planning Your Best Exit Strategy

We have discussed in the past, the importance of having a long-term plan for your business, particularly for when you are no longer in a position to run the company yourself. The importance of an exit strategy or long-term plan can not be overstated for businesses of all sizes, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is as always advisable to stay abreast of current issues and changes that may affect the long and short term plans you have in mind for your business and in this vein, there has been some cause for concern in recent days regarding ways that taxation could inhibit future planning.

A new report issued by PwC this week has stated that current tax rules which hit the transfer of family businesses are putting both jobs and companies at large in danger. These rules make options incredibly limited for business owners as they limit owners passing on their business to family members while they are living. Some anomalies to the system in this respect mean that the new business owner could find themselves incurring high tax costs that would potentially place additional pressures on the business and put it at risk.

PwC have given some suggestions on changes they would like implemented in the next budget to protect business owners and entrepreneurs in the event of passing their business on while still living. One such suggestion is the removal of the current cap of €3million on the value of business assets which can benefit from Retirement Relief. There is also calls for the Entrepreneurial Relief Capital Gains Tax threshold to be reduced to allow further relief to these businesses as well as increasing the lifetime limit applicable and reducing current restrictions which may exclude many. It has also been suggested that tax relief options could be made available.

Consultation with the Government for this process is ongoing and submissions will close on May 24th and there are hopes that there will be changes announced in the next Budget to combat this issue and make the family handover of businesses a smoother and more profitable process. The transition of a business is inevitably a stressful and concerning time, so any changes that can be of benefit and ensure the longevity of an existing healthy business should certainly be embraced.

Should you have any queries or concerns on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help you and your business.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Revenue Commissioners New Debt Management System (DMS)

Onward, to the Future

The past number of months have been a time of increasing change for Irish businesses. From large scale changes to payroll systems to the clamping down of Revenue on all forms of tax evasion and tax fraud. These have been major changes to the ways in which Irish companies do business day-to-day and are hoped to be a solution to some long-term issues facing Irish business life, as it is hoped it will all lead to smoother business operations and less issues facing the Irish tax system.

The season of change continues onwards as it was recently announced that The Revenue Commissioners were set to release a new system for debt management, one which will be more technologically advanced than previous iterations and which will assist them in chasing down more unpaid tax, particularly in the sector of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

Revenue’s new system entitled DMS (Debt Management Services) was launched just recently and promises to utilise high-tech means to target and deal with a wider range of tax payer. Whilst this may seem like a frightening prospect for SMEs, it is in fact a positive step towards ensuring that all Irish businesses are compliant, and that smaller business need not suffer the consequences of the failures of their larger brethren. The system will be able to target businesses and individuals who may previously have been too expensive to identify and pursue.

A spokesperson for Revenue has stated of the new DMS system that it will:

“Deliver significant increased capacity to manage and support compliance and tackle non-compliance” and will “enable Revenue to review customers with lower turnarounds on a more regular basis”.

So, whilst this means that SME’s will of course naturally fall under the Revenue microscope more often than previous, it is a step in the right direction for the future of business in Ireland, as it is set to join the Payroll Modernisation system in making it easier and more transparent for businesses to submit documentation and queries as the spokes person went on to say:

“The new system is fully online, allowing documentation to be uploaded electronically. It gives customers greater flexibility to manage their payment schedule and make certain alterations to suit their circumstances.

We as always advise to ensure that all your documentation and tax files are in order well ahead of time to ensure that you do not face further issues going forward. Should you have any queries or concerns, our doors are always open here at EcovisDCA.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Enterprise Tax Relief & Grants

Entrepreneurs exist in a section of Irish business that is often overlooked when it comes to grants, relief and assistance. It is an area that is prized and valued in terms of training initiatives, but often forgotten about when it comes to actioning. Entrepreneurship remains the riskiest sector of Worldwide business, but particularly in Ireland which is quite a small pond for any business-savvy fish to set up shop in. As we all know, SMEs form a massive part of all Irish businesses, and we have spoken recently about the ways in which increased support is being made available to these businesses, so this naturally begs the question as to why the same isn’t being extended to entrepreneurs who may be poised to become the next big names in SME or even large-scale enterprises.

The chorus of voices crying out for change and support in the entrepreneurship sector has increased exponentially in recent months. This call for change has begun to spread to state agencies with Enterprise Ireland becoming involved and in February, divisional manager of the high-potential start-up unit, Joe Healy went as far as to call entrepreneurs “The real heroes of the Irish economy who deserve recognition and attention”.

Mr Healy also revealed that Enterprise Ireland had invested €23million in start-ups in 2018, including many of the high-potential start-ups and expressed his belief that there should be increased support and recognition for entrepreneurial risk-takers as they are ambition, resilient and innovative, which should all be highly prized in the business world. Healy also expressed his desire that this support encourage more female entrepreneurs to take the lead in Ireland going forward as he has seen an increase in the number of female entrepreneurs in the last 2 years.

While there are currently no large-scale plans for governmental support of entrepreneurs, the government have been repeatedly called upon to overhaul the Capital Gains Tax system and the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme for entrepreneurial candidates. With the addition of a state funded body like Enterprise Ireland adding their voices to the cry for change it is hoped that we may soon see more steps in the right direction. As Healy stated:

“There are still challenges around retaining and attracting talent, and we need to ensure that the tax system supports and encourages risk-takers […] Not only changes to reward the real heroes of the economy but the tax system must be internationally competitive […] The taxation environment is critically important for starting and scaling companies. It is a key factor in the overall competitiveness in Ireland […] There is a need for an entrepreneurs’ relief scheme to reflect the risks of setting up a business, and a share options scheme to reward shares.”

Perhaps we may soon see Irish entrepreneurs being capable of entering the worldwide business market in a more competitive manner. In times of financial recovery such as these “risk” can often seem like a dirty and dangerous word, but this is perhaps exactly the right time to reward innovators and risk takers.

Should you have any concerns or queries on any business or financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Rescue & Restructuring Scheme

Financial Aid To Restructure & Survive

As you are all aware, we here at EcovisDCA are massive supporters of Irish SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). We understand the importance of these types of companies, underpinning and creating a foundation for all Irish business. In general, we like to keep our clients and friends up to date on any issues that may negatively or positively affect these vital businesses. You may or may not have heard of the Rescue and Restructuring Scheme in Ireland. The scheme provides financial aid and State support to companies experiencing acute liquidity. The intention was that the scheme would offer assistance to those struggling companies who have the possibility of restructuring and continued survival in the business world.

The scheme was first introduced in November 2017, offering a fund of €10million to struggling Irish SMEs. In 2018, an extension to the scheme was approved and announced, with an additional €10million being made available to these businesses. The scheme was scheduled to run until 2020 and would offer support in form of loans repayable over a period of 18 months. The only exemptions to the scheme were those companies in the financial, coal and steel sectors.

The introduction of this scheme in 2017 and 2018’s subsequent extension and funds increase was already a massive boon to the Irish SME sector, offering some form of safety net in times of trouble. As we are all aware, financially speaking anything can happen in the economy and smaller businesses are usually the first to feel the negative effects, so this offer of €20million to survive Brexit woes for struggling SMEs was welcome news.

Further good news arrived on the horizon this month, with the announcement that the scheme would once again be extended with further funds being made available. Perhaps the whispers of terms like “hard Brexit” and “borders” may have had something to do with it, but on this occasion we see a massive increase as it was recently announced that The European Commission has agreed to increase the budget of the scheme by a whopping €180million to €200million.

We are delighted that the Government are taking the appropriate steps to assist in the safeguarding of these vital companies and their future in the eye of the Brexit hurricane, as it has long been known that Irish SMEs could be the most vulnerable in the event of Brexit causing trade and financial issues in Ireland. These additional funds show a willingness to create and support vulnerable businesses and create an ongoing contingency plan for these uncertain weeks and months ahead.

Should you have any queries on any business or financial matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA where we are always happy to help.

SMEs Come In To 2019 Fighting

As we cruise in to the middle of January, and we finally stop writing the incorrect year on all of our notes, we begin to look towards what 2019 may have in store and what we can bring forward into this New Year that was learned in 2018. It is natural to be caught somewhere between cautious and optimistic for the year ahead even on a personal level, and reports this week suggest that the feeling amongst the Small Business Community is no different.

The latest report from the Small Firms Association (SFA) this month suggest that the mood within the Small Business Community at present is very cautious yet somewhat optimistic with just under 60% of members (all small businesses with 50 employees or less) stating that they feel that the business environment is improving and continuing to do so. This is a drop of just 2% from last year which emphasises the level of uncertainty within the year ahead as the idea of a Hard Brexit and border issues for Irish businesses continues to loom large.

Brexit was naturally highlighted as one of the larger areas of concern, which is unlikely to change for a number of weeks as talks in Britain ramp up and the situation becomes more tense, fraught and confusing for those of us that could be impacted. We have often discussed the increasing cost of living in Ireland, but we have not highlighted another cause of concern with small businesses and SMEs which is the increasing cost of running a business which rises in conjunction with the cost of living. With unemployment decreasing steadily, attracting talented staff has also become a tripping point for some small businesses.

Director of the SFA Sven Spollen-Behrens has stated that;

“2018 has been a challenging year for small business […] The confident mood of a year ago has eased a little on account of Brexit and the tightening labour market. Nevertheless, the Irish economy remains in a strong position and this is confirmed on our member’s feedback.”

Despite these concerns, over two thirds of the businesses surveyed outlined their plans to recruit and expand their business over the course of 2019, whilst half of those surveyed had reported continuing growth. This shows that even when the environment is clouded by uncertainty and difficulties, Irish SMEs will always come out fighting.

Whether 2018 was your businesses most successful year to date, or fell somewhat short of business expectations, there is a full year of opportunity to embrace ahead. While we may be wary of the changes Brexit may bring to our shores, we must also be prepared and safeguard our businesses against any coming storm. We hope 2019 will be an incredibly successful year for all and as always we here at Ecovis DCA are ready and available to assist with any queries or concerns you may have with regards to any business or financial matters. Please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Significant PAYE Changes Coming

Rolling with the Changes.

Following on from our recent series on modernisation, today we will be discussing some more imminent changes which are set to change the face of payroll as we know it. As you will all be aware, we here at EcovisDCA have long been great supporters of Irish SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). As we have discussed in the past, SMEs now make up over half of all Irish businesses, so to say they now form the backbone of Irish business is no exaggeration. In the past we have spoken at length about new methods of funding available to these vital businesses as we continue to support their survival. This week we have decided to take a look at one major upcoming change which could have a large impact on SMEs and which they may need to begin planning for as soon as possible.

This year it was announced that the PAYE (Pay as You Earn) system would undergo what is likely the largest overhaul the system has experienced since it was introduced in 1960. These changes will have wide ranging effects on all businesses. Having remained largely unchanged for decades, the system is naturally due a major changes and such a large change could of course have detrimental effects on any smaller businesses who may not be as prepared as they could be. These changes are due to come into effect in January, so time is running out to get fully prepared. It is intended that these changes make the payroll process an easier task going forward as well as allowing any issues to be resolved more efficiently.

A survey commissioned recently by payroll software providers Big Red Cloud has discovered the worrying fact that a large number of SMEs do not feel prepared for these imminent changes. While many firms reported that they feel there isn’t enough clear information to hand, as many as 40% feel that they are unprepared and short on detail of how the changes will work in practise.

Rather than payroll information being logged yearly via a form, many of our current ‘P’ forms will become outdates, with data being instead inputted on a regular basis. This new system will require an update of company payroll software, with companies employing less than 9 people qualifying for free software. This is a major shift towards real-time electronic logging of data which will remove the need for the classic forms.

Big Red Cloud CEO Marc O’Dwyer has said of the company’s findings:

“As the year progresses, it is becoming increasingly apparent to us that, not only are many businesses not ready, many are simply unaware and/or uninformed of the changes and what they will mean for their business.”

Whilst Revenue Chairman Niall Cody has stated that the changes:

“Represent an important step in the continuous improvement in service […] businesses, particularly those at the smaller end of the scale will need some help to get there.”

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

The Climate Action Fund – A New Grant Available

Save the Planet – It’s the only one with Chocolate

Whilst Irish business can often be a stressful place to be in the current environment, there has been a lot of movement in the right direction during Ireland’s economic recovery and we have spoken in the past about new layers of support being put in place for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) which remain the backbone of Irish business. From new funding opportunities to new investment opportunities Ireland is fast becoming the ideal place to do business, with some suggesting that Brexit may in fact be beneficial to Ireland’s business standings worldwide. We have spoken in the past about a number of available grants and today we will discuss one which we feel may be of particular benefit to our clients.

In our modern age it has become increasingly apparent that each individual must make strides to make our planet a more sustainable place to live. Often there is very little incentive to engage in such a costly process with the return of investment being a very long term process. Now however, for the first time not merely exclusive to SMEs there is a grant available that will help you make your business more eco-friendly without leaving a massive hole in your pocket.

The Climate Action Fund is part of the National Development plan which promises to change Ireland for the better by 2027, and will offer support to those businesses which assist the country in reaching its climate and energy targets. The purpose of the grants given will be to fund projects which would otherwise not be possible to complete. The fund will have an allocation of at least €500million leading up to 2027. The first call for applications to this fund will deal with larger scale projects scheduled for development in 2019-2020, which seek support in excess of €1million. Should you feel that your company may benefit from this, there is a rather small window of opportunity as the applications will be open from September 17th until October 1st so it would be imperative that you gather all required information and begin the process of collating this and having a project plan in place in advance of the application call opening.

The funding will be available to a wide range of projects which serve the greater interest of Ireland’s eco-awareness including:

  • Renewable Energy Projects.
  • Heating Projects.
  • Electrical Vehicle Charging Projects.
  • Environmental Protection Projects.
  • Energy Efficiency Projects.

This is of course only the first call for applications, there will be more over the course of the project and undoubtedly these will apply to a wide range of businesses and serve varied functions so if this first call does not apply to your company, we would advise keeping a close eye on the scheme for the next series of calls for applications.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Long Term Job Creation & Retention For Your Business

EII EII, Captain

Job creation and retention has long been a top priority for Irish Business. Following the economic downturn, jobs were no longer a guarantee, rather they became somewhat of a luxury for a time as the job market became increasingly competitive and there were fewer jobs available as companies struggled to maintain their existing employee ratios. Incentives like the JobBridge scheme have been accused of exacerbating this issue, and exploiting workers, resulting in the dissolution of the programme. One programme which has greatly which has continued on through changes and changing times during Ireland’s continuing recovery is the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) scheme.

The EII Scheme is a tax relief incentive which was previously under the name Business Expansion Scheme. The scheme provides income tax relief to Qualifying Investors for investments in qualifying Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and is one of very few remaining schemes to do so. The Finance Act of 2015 introduced a number of changes to the scheme including new requirements for qualifying companies, which all will now be aware of. There were also some more recent changes made which not all interested companies may yet be aware of.

As part of the Finance Bill 2017, Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohue announced significant changes to be made to the scheme. This followed on from revelations that the EII was not functioning in accordance with sections of the European Commission General Block Exemption Regulations which state that all finance aid schemes considered as risk level should be restricted to independent private investors only and cannot provide relief to those with any close connections to the business. This new amendment will be a major change for interested parties as well as those who have availed of the scheme in the past as from this point on as it will now eliminate all parties apart from private independent investors. Those investors with any connections including any shares owned by them or their associates, family members, partners or descendants are also exempt from participation.

This announcement saw these changes come into effect on November 2nd 2017 and were seen by the Minister as being a correction to an inherent error within the scheme and there is to be a review of the scheme in full in the first half of this year so that any further changes can be brought forward into Budget 2019.

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Local Enterprise Offices Support For SME’s

As discussed last week, the general outlook in Ireland for start-ups and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) has begun to brighten considerably in recent years with the addition of new funding options and the acceptance of these forms of businesses as being a large and important part of Irish business in the modern age.

This week, it was revealed that start-ups and small businesses have also begun to form a large part of the Irish employment recovery as it was revealed that 3,700 jobs were created last year by these types of businesses, backed by their LEOs (Local Enterprise Offices). These offices are seldom the focus of much spotlight, but are often the key to getting a small business off the ground and keeping it running.

Local Enterprise Offices are run by Enterprise Ireland and specialise in assisting these vital small businesses in Ireland in a multitude of ways, from offering advice, information and guidance to creating a calendar of important news, publications and events for these business owners to be aware of. This provision is of vital importance to these smaller companies which may not otherwise find the support they so badly need to get off the ground. Minister for Trade Pat Breen has been quoted as saying of the offices:

“In a challenging environment, LEO clients have contributed substantially to economic development up and down the country, especially outside of the main urban centres.”

There are 31 LEO nationwide, each providing a wealth of essential services to the start-ups and SMEs in the locality. It was also reported that more than 80 small businesses progressed from LEOs into the Enterprise Ireland portfolio in 2017, meaning that these businesses crossed the threshold into viable businesses with the assistance of their LEOs.

Things appear to be looking up for small businesses in Ireland, and with the support of vital structures like the LEOs we may see a great many more new start-ups and SMEs get their big break on Irish soil.

Should you require any help, advice or guidance on any financial or business matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at EcovisDCA, where we will be happy to support you in getting your business to the next level.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY