Monday 23 September 2019

Businesses preparing for Brexit - but steer clear of €300m in State loans

Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Businesses are cashing in on various readiness schemes to help them prepare for Brexit - but the take up remains low on the Government's key loan scheme.

The €300m funding has been open since March and has seen just €12.51m drawn so far - just over 4pc of the total available pot. To date 270 applications from 307 have been deemed eligible and 54 loans have been sanctions.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys said uptake of the scheme has increased in recent months and "it is likely that applications will increase as we approach and pass the March 2019 deadline for the UK's exit from the EU".

"Any application for finance has to be in line with a company's financial planning, and it can be difficult to plan when a situation remains unclear," she said.

"At the end of the day, this is a loan and companies will still have to pay the money back. In fact, it would be worrying if the whole fund had been taken up straight away because it would indicate that businesses are in serious trouble."

A range of other supports have been made available under the auspices of Enterprise Ireland and north-south group Intertrade Ireland.

Intertrade Ireland has paid out 619 vouchers - 300 to companies in the Republic - under their 'Start to Plan' scheme that gives SMEs €2,250 to pay for professional advice on Brexit related matters.

Meanwhile, Enterprise Ireland has a range of supports for companies who are attempting to bulwark against the impact of Brexit, including funding of up to €5,000 to compile a Brexit Action plan under their Be Prepared scheme. To date 149 vouchers have been granted totalling €164,573.

The majority of those who have been granted funding are based in Dublin (61), with just 11 companies in the west taking up the scheme.

There is also separate funding under the Act On programme to allow companies to hire a consultant to carry out a report identifying weaknesses and ways to improve resilience has seen more than €258,000 paid out; 130 reports have been completed and another 127 are under way.

Irish Independent

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