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Supports & Advice for SME's during COVID-19

COVID-19 is having a major impact on healthcare globally; but this pandemic will have a detrimental effect on the Irish economy and will be felt by all businesses; most notably the aviation industry, hospitality, tourism and the retail sector.

During these uncertain times it is important to communicate effectively with staff, clients, lenders, landlords and suppliers. I have heard from small business owners who have been left financially exposed for fulfilling orders that may never be paid. Please remember professional courtesy in how you conduct your business, honour your commitments and only order goods or services if you are sure you can make payments. We are all in this together!

The following are sources of information that I have found useful as a business owner, a mentor to SME’s and as a member of several private and not-for-profit Boards. I hope you find this helpful. I remain available for advice and support by email should you need it during these troubling times.

Does your insurance cover you?

Check if your insurance policy covers you for business interruption or temporary business closure. Insurance Ireland issued the following advice:

· check your policy documents first to see what cover you have in place

· read the Insurance Product Information Document (IPID). which lists what is insured

· in particular check the material damages covered under the policy as they all vary

https://www.insuranceireland.eu/news-and-publications/news-press-release/insurance-ireland-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Lease & License Agreement Obligations

Commercial tenants are facing major disruption to their business. Generally speaking, commercial leases do not contain force majeure provisions or allow for a suspension of rent in this type of scenario and any refusal to pay rent may result in the landlord looking to wind up the Tenant company or claiming for financial loss. Landlords have their obligations to lenders so there is a big knock on effect.

A blanket refusal not to pay rent is not a good strategy; instead look to negotiate a solution that will allow you both to weather the storm and attempt to strike a fair balance. Check out the @ConstructionNetworkIreland and their useful article by @SarahKeenan of @LemanSolicitors

http://www.constructionnetworkireland.com/communication-co-operation-key-ladlords-tenants-moving-forward/

Business Continuity Planning

The Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation have issued a checklist for Business Continuity Planning specifically responding to COVID-19. Check out this link to their website: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Business-Continuity-Planning-A-checklist-of-Preparatory-Actions-in-Responding-to-the-COVID-19-Outbreak.html

Rescue & Restructuring Scheme available via Enterprise Ireland

The recent announcement of €200m package to support businesses impacted by COVID-19. Details of how this will apply to #covid-19 impacted business are still being finalised. You can email clientresponse@enterprise-ireland.com or keep an eye on their website for more information https://enterprise-ireland.com/en/about-us/services/covid-19/

SME Credit Grant Scheme #CGS

This existing scheme operates by providing an 80% guarantee on qualifying loans for businesses that find it difficult to access credit. Operated by Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland via BOI, AIB and Ulster Bank.

One of these three barriers to lending must apply:

· Inadequate collateral

· Novel business market, sector or technology which is perceived by finance providers as higher risk under current credit risk evaluation practices

· Need for refinancing caused by the exit of an SMEs lender from the Irish market

· Working Capital Scheme specifically for COVID-19 is now open for eligibility applications.

Check out the following link that provides more information on your eligibility and how to apply.

https://sbci.gov.ie/

Business Continuity Voucher

A new support available from you Local Enterprise Office for SME’s to help keep their business going during #covid-19. Details will be released shortly. Check out this link for more information. https://www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Covid-19/COVID%E2%80%9319-Business-Supports.html

Pandemic Unemployment Payment

The government has announced an unemployment benefit of €203 per week for six weeks if you are out of work due to the #Covid-19 crisis.

Key Points

· all employers, who can, are being asked to pay employees a minimum of €203 per week and they will be reimbursed by the government for each of the payments made (a temporary refund scheme is being established)

· if employers can't pay that or you are no longer employed then the new Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be paid directly to you

· to apply you will have to fill out a one-page application form (see below for link) - you are being asked not to attend an INTREO Centre but to send the form back by post.

You can download the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment form with details of where to post it on the link below

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/be74d3-covid-19-pandemic-unemployment-payment/

Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences

If you have been told to self-isolate (at home or in a medical facility) by a doctor or you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a doctor, you can apply for an enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €305 per week. Normal Illness Benefit is €203.

Key issues to qualify

· self-isolating on the instruction of a doctor or diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

· be absent from work and not getting paid by your employer

· paid for a maximum of 2 weeks where a person is self-isolating

· or the duration of absence from work if diagnosed with COVID-19

· your doctor has to complete a medical certificate on your behalf and send this directly to the department.

· Then complete an application form for Illness Benefit (Form IB 1).

· you can call 1890 800 024 or 01 2481398 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday to get an application form by post

· you can organise someone to pick up a form at your doctor’s surgery or at your local Intreo Centre

· an online application process will be available by the end of March

· Send your application form by Freepost to:

Social Welfare Services

Address: PO Box 1650, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Dublin 1

The link below will give you further details

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/df55ae-how-to-apply-for-illness-benefit-for-covid-19-absences/

COVID-19: Helpful Advice for Business from IoD Ireland

If you are a member of the @IODIreland they will be sending out regular updates for businesses such as Legal Resources to Help Businesses Navigate COVID-19 to contingency planning for AGM’s. Check out https://www.iodireland.ie/ for more information.

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