15th May 2024

Announcement of Government supports for SMEs

The government has agreed a range of measures with the aim of reducing costs for small and medium sized businesses, brought forward by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Peter Burke.

Key measures include:

  • reopening the Increased Cost of Business (ICOB) Scheme for another 14 days
  • introducing a second payment of ICOB for businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors
    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 startups 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
  • review ESRI research on the impact of Statutory Sick Leave before deciding on any further increases
    review the proposed Roadmap for Increasing Minimum Annual Remuneration Thresholds for Employment Permits

The government has also noted other measures being progressed:

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has confirmed that she will increase 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%.
The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Patrick O’Donovan will develop proposals for the effective and sustainable use of the €1.5bn surplus in the National Training Fund to future proof workforce skills in SMEs and ensure workers in SMEs can readily access lifelong learning opportunities.
The Minister for Housing, Heritage and Local Government will shortly issue a circular letter to local authorities informing 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.

“Our small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and provide much valued employment in communities across the country. These measures represent agreement from across government on the need to support our SMEs in the face of rising costs – while also balancing critical progress in terms of working conditions.

“Small and medium sized businesses are vital to Ireland’s success and are central to our ability to build a broad-based and successful economy and wider society. It has been a priority of Taoiseach Simon Harris to support our small businesses since he took office, and I am glad today that we have delivered on this.

“While there has been some moderation in the rate of wholesale price inflation, and measures to date have helped many vulnerable but viable firms, these new measures will help SME long-term financial sustainability, and aid them to grow and thrive so as to sustain good jobs into the future.

“I continue to advocate on behalf of small businesses and traders up and down this country, and I look forward to Budget 2025 to highlight further government commitment to this critical sector.”
Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath said:

“The package of measures being announced today is fair and balanced, and underlines the recognition across government of the crucial role SMEs play in our economy and in communities across Ireland. As Minister for Finance, I very much welcome the progress that has been made in relation to the Tax Debt Warehouse scheme. This has been a vital support to viable businesses during the dark days of the pandemic and in the period since. I would also like to thank the Revenue Commissioners for the positive and proactive approach they have taken to engaging with firms. The success of the scheme is a testament to the collaborative approach taken by a broad range of stakeholders and demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting our business and enterprise sector.”
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett said:

“Small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of towns and villages the length and breadth of the country, and play an essential role in maintaining communities in rural areas. These business owners have shown remarkable resilience over the past number of years in facing the successive challenges of Covid, energy costs and inflation. This package of government supports will play a vital role in bolstering that resilience and will enable these businesses to focus on what they do best.”


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