The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys T.D. met with top management at AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank yesterday and today (11th and 12th of March) to discuss their response to the challenges facing Irish businesses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Minister Humphreys said “All three banks have assured me that they will support their business customers through this period. The impact of this crisis will be severe – but it will end – and Government and the banks will work together to do what is needed to support the cash needs of businesses as they work their way through it.
“I would urge all businesses to engage with your bank, agree financing needs over the coming period and restructure as appropriate.
“I welcome that the Pillar Banks have publicly announced that they will offer relief, including short payment holidays on mortgage payments of three to six months to customers that find themselves in financial distress as a result of the fast-spreading coronavirus and that businesses will be able to avail of emergency working capital, payment flexibility on borrowings and trade finance for those sourcing products from new suppliers internationally as the virus plays havoc on supply chains”
The Minister advised businesses experiencing financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19 to take the following steps:
- Contact your Bank or Finance provider to talk about your financing needs
- Consider the use of the State’s Credit Guarantee Scheme, which supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be through the Pillar Banks or through the SBCI website.
- Microenterprises, can access loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland. Applications can be made through the MFI website or through your local LEO.
- Consider the SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses will be available within the next week. Applications can be made through the SBCI website.
The Minister added, there are a number of practical steps you can take today:
- Assess your cash needs for the coming weeks. It may be prudent to defer discretionary spend
- Get advice from your accountant or use the advisory support available from your local LEO, and talk to your bank
- Check if your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by Covid-19
- Consider whether you would be in a position to access contractors if your own workforce was to be significantly impacted
- Develop a business continuity plan, brief your staff on that plan, and test it in exercises. Maximise the use of remote and flexible working. My Department provides a template here.
The Minister concluded “This situation is changing rapidly, and I want to assure businesses that I am monitoring the situation closely and will continue to respond to support and protect businesses.”