COVID-19: Rates deferral and supports available for businesses

Businesss supports

18th March 2020 - UPDATED 25th March 2020

As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cork City Council will be deferring rates payments for three months in line with the Government’s announcement made earlier today.

Rates payments will be deferred until the end of May for businesses most impacted by Covid-19, primarily the retail, hospitality, leisure and childcare sectors.

Cork City Council Director of Finance, John Hallahan said: “Cork City Council is acutely aware of the very real and very sudden challenges being faced by business, big and small, in our city and country. We will continue to work with our rate payers on a case by case basis and we are asking businesses to contact us at rates@corkcity.ieor by phoning 021-4924000."

"Our  Strategic Economic Development (SED) Directorate and Local Enterprise Office (LEO) also want business owners to know that there are supports in place to further help them with the challenges they are suddenly facing  because of the coronavirus”.

Rates make up 43% per cent of Cork City council’s budget and are critical for the continued delivery of services such as fire and emergency response, flooding response, waste management, street cleaning, and the maintenance of parks and amenities.

A Covid-19 Response Group was established by senior management  in Cork City Council over three weeks ago and meets daily to monitor  and assess the impact on our residents and businesses  of the rapidly changing situation.

A number of supports are in place to address challenges facing businesses as a result of COVID-19.  The main supports are outlined below.  For further queries check out the relevant websites or contact Cork City Local Enterprise Office at 021-4961828  or email info@leo.corkcity.ie

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

  • Short Time Work Support - is available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and is an income support payment for employees who have been temporarily placed on a shorter working week and is intended to help employers during periods of temporary difficulty. 
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment - from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will be available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment has a one–page application form and will be paid for a period of 6 weeks at a flat rate payment of €350 per week for jobseekers.
  • the COVID-19 illness payment has been increased to €350 per week
  • The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is a scheme which allow employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. Employers will be refunded up to 70 percent of an employee's wages - up to a level of €410.

The Local Enterprise Office

  • A Business Continuity Voucher to support businesses in developing short and long-term strategies is available for sole traders and companies.  The voucher, worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs, is aimed at supporting businesses with contingency planning and make informed decisions on the immediate measures needed to continue trading in the current environment.  Qualifying applications will be processed on the basis of their receipt to such time as the fund is exhausted or until 15th May 2020 whichever is earlier.  Application form available at www.LocalEnterprise.ie/Response
  • Clients who are repaying refundable portion of their priming or business expansion grants to the LEO are being offered an option to defer payments for a 3 month period should they encounter financial difficulties;
  • Cork City LEO is currently accepting applications for the Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 Business Loan.  The cap for support from Microfinance Ireland has been increased from €25,000 to €50,000.  The loan repayments freeze and no interest will apply for the first six months;
  • Mentoring is available for businesses facing cash-flow and HR issues;
  • Strategic Consultancy Grant - for SME’s to assist the company development of a strategic response plan;
  • Vouchers for business continuity, preparedness, innovation and productivity will be available through Local Enterprise Offices in every local authority area;
  • It is anticipated that additional mentoring supports will available through the Local Enterprise Office.

Enterprise Ireland

  • €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme - available through Enterprise Ireland for viable but vulnerable firms that need to restructure or transform their businesses, details of these supports are being finalised.
  • €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital Scheme - for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • The Credit Guarantee Scheme is a government supported product from the banks for small and medium businesses who have difficulty borrowing from their bank. Businesses can apply for loans of up to €1 million at AIB, Bank of Ireland or Ulster Bank. Loans can be for terms of up to 7 years, we are awaiting details.
  • Finance in Focus - “Finance in focus” grant available to Enterprise Ireland clients to support financial planning.