Dublin, 2nd October With 29 days to go until Brexit, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today urged businesses to secure approval for the Government’s €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme now, in advance of October 31st, to be ready for the aftermath of a potential No Deal scenario.
The Scheme is designed to address working capital challenges brought about by Brexit. Loans of up to €1.5 million are available at a rate of 4% or less, with loans of up to €500,000 available on an unsecured basis. Loan eligibility remains valid for 4 months.
Minister Humphreys said: “The most immediate consequences of a hard Brexit are likely to be currency movements, supply chain constraints, delays, duties and tariffs. In the first instance, this will put a strain on the working capital position of businesses, so now is the time to put your safety nets in place.
“We don’t know what the lay of the land will be like after 31st October. If there is a crash-out Brexit, we could see a sudden rush of applications. As a result, my strong advice is to apply for the Scheme now as a contingency measure.
“Look at it as an insurance policy. If you apply now and get approval there is no obligation to ever draw down the loan. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you proceed, so my strong advice is to apply now and decide later.
“The eligibility stays valid for 4 months and it can give you financial certainty in a very unpredictable situation. You could be very relieved to have the option there in a few weeks’ time.”
The Minister also drew businesses’ attention to the Future Growth Loan Scheme, which makes an additional €300 million available to support strategic investment by SMEs in a post-Brexit environment. These loans are open to those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors.
Both Loan Schemes are administered for the Government by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and delivered through the banks.
Pointing to the Future Growth Loan Scheme, the Minister said: “Up until recently, finance of more than 7 years was not available on the market. Through the Future Growth Loan Scheme, the Government is addressing this gap by providing loans with terms of 8 to 10 years to Irish SMEs and farmers.
“Eligibility for this Scheme remains valid for 6 months so, again, I would urge firms to put it in place now so that they have the option there at a later stage.”
In addition, the Minister reminded companies that Enterprise Ireland administers both the Be Prepared Grant, offering up to €5,000 to assist exporting client companies to develop a Brexit plan, and the Market Discovery Fund, which supports companies to research viable and sustainable new market entry strategies.
She also stressed that the Local Enterprise Offices operate the TAME grant, which offers up to €2,500 to support companies to explore and develop new export market opportunities, while InterTradeIreland’s Start to Plan vouchers provide up to €2,250 for SMEs to source professional advice or training. Businesses can also avail of up to €5,625 though the Brexit Implementation Voucher to support implementation of their contingency plan.
The Minister concluded:
“I fully accept that that the lack of clarity complicates our Brexit contingency planning. I also accept that it is incredibly difficult for businesses – especially small businesses – to plan for a situation that remains so unclear. Notwithstanding this, there are certain steps you can take immediately to strengthen your financial position, so I am appealing to you to act now to help protect your business and employees.”