Government Agrees Measures to Support SMEs

On Wednesday 15th May, the Government agreed a range of measures intended to reduce costs for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Two of the key measures announced relate to the Increased Cost of Business (ICOB) Scheme.

ICOB Scheme

The registration portal for the ICOB Scheme has been reopened for another 14 days, until 29 May. This extension will allow businesses to avail of the scheme that did not register by the previous 1 May registration deadline. This grant is intended as a one-time financial aid to help businesses with increased costs associated with running a business.

The grant value for a qualifying business is calculated based on the 2023 rates bill for their property. Businesses with a 2023 rates bill for their property of up to €10,000 will receive a grant which equates to half of their bill. For those with a 2023 rates bill for their property ranging from €10,000 to €30,000, a fixed grant of €5,000 will be provided. Businesses with a 2023 rates bill for their property over €30,000 do not qualify for the ICOB grant.

Second Grant Payment for the Retail and Hospitality Sectors is now available under the ICOB. The second grant payment will be the same amount as the initial grant. Businesses already registered in these sectors do not need to re-register to avail of the second grant payment. They will receive another email when the second grant payment is processed. If a business believes it has been incorrectly classified under the wrong business type, the business can log in to their MyCoCo account and amend their self-declared Business Type from next Monday, 20 May.

Other measures announced include:

  • Doubling the Innovation Grant Scheme to €10,000.
  • Increasing the maximum amount available under the Energy Efficiency Grant Scheme to €10,000 and reducing the business contribution rate from 50% to 25%.
  • Widening the eligibility for the Trading Online Voucher, extending it to all sectors up to 50 employees, modernise eligible expenditure and doubling the grant to €5,000.
  • Increasing the lending limit for Microfinance Ireland loans to €50,000 from €25,000.
  • Widening the eligibility for the Digital for Business Consultancy Scheme and extending it to all sectors with up to 50 employees.
  • Launching a new ‘Ireland’s Best Entrepreneur Programme’ to encourage entrepreneurship and start-ups in under-represented groups.
  • Launching the new online National Enterprise Hub for SMEs to access information on the wide range of Government business supports.
  • Implementing an enhanced ‘SME Test’ by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in conjunction with the Department of the Taoiseach.
  • Reviewing the ESRI research on the impact of Statutory Sick Leave before deciding on any further increases.
  • Reviewing the proposed Roadmap for Increasing Minimum Annual Remuneration Thresholds for Employment Permits.
  • Increasing the Employer PRSI threshold from €441 to €496 with effect from 1 October 2024. This will ensure that employers with employees working full time on the national minimum wage will not be required to pay the higher rate of Employer PRSI of 11.05% and will instead pay the lower rate of 8.8%.
  • Developing proposals for the effective and sustainable use of the €1.5 billion surplus in the National Training Fund to future proof workforce skills in SMEs and ensure workers in SMEs can readily access lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Issuing a circular letter to local authorities to inform them that no fees shall be charged or levied for tables and chairs for the purpose of outdoor dining up to 31 December 2024. This is expected to save €125 per table for hotels, restaurants, public houses or other establishments where food is sold for consumption on the premises.

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