Monday 11 November 2019

Firms facing Brexit ruin could tap €110m emergency fund, says Minister Heather Humphreys

Heather Humphreys. Picture: Justin Farrelly
Heather Humphreys. Picture: Justin Farrelly

Shawn Pogatchnik

Companies facing ruin in event of a no-deal Brexit could immediately tap an €110m emergency support package, the Government has pledged in Budget 2020.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys says Enterprise Ireland "on day one of a crash-out" would provide speedy grants, loans or equity stakes to "vulnerable but viable firms with verifiable Brexit exposure".

Minister Humphreys called the €110m "only the first wave of funding" that would be available if Brexit left hundreds of Irish firms at risk of collapse or bankruptcy because of lost UK trade and supply links.

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"I hope we won't need any of this, because I don't want to see a no-deal Brexit," she said.

The proposed aid package includes a €42m Rescue and Restructuring Fund offering up to €10m to individual applicants in the form of loans or State equity stakes.

"This fund is for the worst-case scenario. It will rescue firms with acute liquidity or insolvency problems and support them to put a restructuring plan in place to adjust to their new reality," she said.

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A €45m Transition Fund would provide a mix of loans, grants and State equity investments to manufacturers and firms in the internationally traded services sector, with maximum aid per business of €1m.

Lastly, an €8m Transformation Fund would provide grants to firms, especially food processors, to innovate and open new markets.

The €110m package includes pledges to increase funding of Microfinance Ireland - the agency supplying loans to firms employing fewer than 10 workers - by €5m.

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A further €5m would be doled out by the State's 31 Local Enterprise Offices in grants of up to €50,000 each.

InterTradeIreland and a host of regulatory bodies - including National Standards Authority, the Irish National Accreditation Board, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and the Health and Safety Authority - would share a further €5m in extra funding.

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