July Stimulus will be the Make or Break for many Businesses

Businesses in Cork have resoundingly called for an approach to Covid-19 business supports that is more tailored to fit the differing needs of business sectors. 92% of businesses surveyed by Cork Chamber reported that a more tailored approach to Covid-19 business supports is now needed.
Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber said:
“Initial Government swift responses to the Covid-19 restrictions on society and business were very welcome. The enhanced Illness Benefit, Pandemic Unemployment Payment and The Wage Subsidy Scheme have been essential in maintaining economic activity and retaining jobs.
But as we transition out of quarter 2, and out of the necessary and most stringent restraints on commerce, it is imperative that the emerging needs of business sectors are carefully considered and responded to.”
73% of those we surveyed reported a decrease in turnover through Q2 with 43% expecting this decrease in turnover to continue through Q3.
Conor Healy continued: “This level of Covid business impact is not sustainable and unless extraordinary measures are taken by Government we will see business closures and major job losses. The July stimulus to be announced will need to take a very focused approach to business needs. It is not a case that one size fits all here. There will need to be exceptional supports in terms of timeframes and impact put in place for the most vulnerable sectors such as tourism and hospitality. However, this can not be to the exclusion of other challenged sectors that require continued support.”

If the July Stimulus is to truly support our vulnerable enterprises, it must include the following:

  1. The extension and reform of the Wage Subsidy Scheme for sectors continuing to be affected. This reform must include allowing vulnerable sectors, many of whom are seasonal, to hire new staff under the Wage Subsidy Scheme.
  2. Clarification and extension of the waiver of commercial Rates for impacted businesses to 12 months, with an accessible mechanism, and commitment to ensure that Local Authorities receive additional central funding to make up for the short-fall.
  3. A new expansive model for grant aid so businesses can tackle the mounting costs of debt and outstanding invoices. The introduction of the “Restart Grant” was a welcome first step and clarity is needed on the mechanism for the Enterprise Support Grant.
  4. A fit for purpose loan scheme underwritten by Government.
  5. Clear commitments to Government spending in the short term on infrastructure and housing projects.
Despite the immense challenges business confidence has risen from 54% in Q1 2020 to 73% by the end of Q2.

Conor Healy noted “This is an indicative reflection of the heart, drive and optimism that exists. Government needs to act comprehensively now to ensure that these ambitions can be realised.