Standing up for small business

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Each year we seek to build the capacity of enterprise to create jobs. The actions being taken are making a difference. We need to make sure enterprise knows what is available. I have set out here important supports for:

  1. Starting Up
  2. Access to Finance
  3. Recruiting
  4. Exporting and Innovation

Finding The Right Support for Your Business: Visitwww.localenterprise.ie/smeonlinetool and answer a few simple questions to find out what supports are available to help your business. It helps you navigate in one location, information and guidance, on over 80 Government business supports.

  1. Starting Up

Local Enterprise Office: Each Local Enterprise Office provides a First Stop Shop for all enterprise supports in every county and also provides the business support service of the local authority. Each LEO offers direct access to mentoring, microfinance, grants (where appropriate) and seamless access to the wider range of Enterprise Ireland support for high potential enterprises. Visit www.LocalEnterprise.ie

Seed Capital Scheme: if you are a PAYE worker and start up and work full-time in your own company, you can get tax relief on the capital you invest in the equity of the company. The relief is a refund of the income tax you paid on an equal amount of income in any of the previous six years. The maximum investment on which relief can be claimed is €600,000. The SCS scheme will re-branded as “Start-up Refunds for Entrepreneurs” (SURE).

Three Year Corporate Tax Exemption: New companies get relief from Corporate Tax for the first three years of up to €5,000 per employee (max €40,000 Tax Credit).

Unemployed – Start Your Own Business: The Start Your Own Business scheme provides for relief from Income Tax for long term unemployed individuals who start a new business. The scheme will provide an exemption from Income Tax up to a maximum of €40,000 per annum for a period of two years to individuals who set up a qualifying business; having been unemployed for a period of at least 12 months prior to starting the business. It runs from 25 October 2013 to 31 December 2016.

Competitive Feasibility Fund: Allows high potential business ideas to compete for funding from Enterprise Ireland to investigate the viability and potential of start-up to develop an Investor Ready Business Plan.

Competitive Start Funding: The Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund offers early stage enterprises with significant potential the opportunity to compete for an investment of €50,000 towards the start-up and market-launch process. Successful starts can graduate to the additional supports available for “High Potential Start-Ups”.

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance: If you have been signing on for over 12 months and you would like to become self-employed, the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) allows you to keep your social welfare payment for 2 years (Year 1: 100%, Year 2:75%). To qualify, you must be setting up a business that a Local Integrated Development Company or a Facilitator has approved in writing in advance. You can also access grants of up to €2,500 for items needed to get started.

Short-Term Enterprise Allowance: The Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA) gives support to people who have lost their job and want to start their own business. It is paid instead of Jobseeker’s Benefit for a maximum of 1 year. It ends when the entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit ends (that is, at either 9 months or 12 months).

  1. Access to Finance

The Microenterprise loan fund: Loans of up to €25,000 are available from Micro Finance Ireland for commercially viable proposals from enterprises with no more than 10 employees that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by commercial banks. Borrowers pay 8.8% APR fixed. Call 01 2601007 or visit www.microfinanceireland.ie or talk to your Local Enterprise Office for further information.

Credit Guarantee Scheme: Companies refused credit for lacking adequate security, or because the bank is unfamiliar with the risk profile of their sector can ask their bank to consider lending under the partial credit guarantee. The Government provides the lender with a 75% guarantee for which the borrower pays a 2% premium on a loan of up to 3 years.

New legislation will extend the Guarantee in 2015:

  • To new loan products (Invoice discounting, leases, overdrafts)
  • The loans of up to 7 years
  • To new financial institutions

The condition of loan refusal is being dropped and the level of guarantee is being increased to 80%.

It will be possible for those who have borrowed under the existing guarantee to make their repayment over the 7 year period under the revised scheme, but only with the permission of their lender.

Credit Review Office (CRO): An SME can appeal the refusal of credit by certain banks (AIB, Bank of Ireland and EBS) to the Credit Review Office, provided they have already used the internal review procedure of the bank. Loans of up to €3 Million can be reviewed by the Credit Review Office. Too few businesses exercise their right to have an internal review by the bank of a decision to refuse credit and to appeal to the CRO. However, 70% of bank decisions are overturned for those who challenge the decision, saving thousands of jobs.

  1. Recruiting

Jobs Plus gives an employer who recruits a person who has been at least 12 months out of work a €72-per-week subsidy for 2 years, provided the job provides work on at least 4 days and 30 hours per week, and a subsidy of €100 per week where the person is 2 years out of work. In 2015 the scheme for persons under 25 will have a shorter qualifying period. Visit www.jobsplus.ie to register online.

Momentum supports employer / trainer partnerships with programmes involving certified classroom training and work experience with a company for people who have been on the live register for 12 months or getting credits. Visitwww.momentumskills.ie

Springboard offers the employer an opportunity to be involved in placement of persons re-skilling in areas of demand.

JobBridge offers an internship of 6-9 months to persons who have been signing on as available to work and getting a payment or credits for at least 3 months. Time on completed programmes in FÁS training, back to education or a community scheme will count towards eligibility. Participants will receive €50/week on top of their welfare. Since 1 July 2013, a host organisation may employ an intern under JobsPlus directly from JobBridge. The intern must have been getting a qualifying payment prior to their internship and they must satisfy the required qualifying period and conditions. See www.jobbridge.ie

An Apprenticeship Call has just been issued (closing date 31 March 2015) for employer groups to submit proposals for apprenticeships in new skill areas. Tel: 01-5332500

Your Education and Training Board (ETB) will work with enterprise to publish a training strategy in 2015 to serve the training needs of the area.

Wage Subsidy Scheme provides financial incentives to employers, outside the public sector, to employ disabled people who work more than 20 hours a week. A person on the Wage Subsidy Scheme is subject to the same conditions of employment as other employees These conditions include PRSI contributions, annual leave, tax deductions and the going rate for the job.

  1. Export and Innovation

Research and Development Tax Credit: Research and Development attracts additional tax credit of 25% which can be offset against Corporation Tax or PRSI. From 2015 the credit applies to all R and D expenditure (without deduction). The limits on the amount of expenditure on R&D outsourced to third parties which can qualify for the R&D Tax Credit is being increased from 10% to 15%.

Potential Exports Division: EI’s new Potential Exporters Division provides a wide range of initiatives focussed on helping companies export more. The ‘Get Export Ready’ programme includes practical measures for early exporters. A further set of export workshops are available to deepen these skills.

Application of Lean Processes in Manufacturing can be supported by your Local Enterprise Office or Enterprise Ireland