Local Fianna Fáil Councillor and businessman, Aengus O'Rourke, is calling upon Minister Heather Humphreys to address the qualification criteria for the Business Restart Grant.
"In its current form, the Restart Grant will provide for a grant of between €2,000 and €10,000 to eligible businesses, who employ less than 50 people and whose turnover is less than €5m. The problem is however that the payment is based on a business’s commercial rates bill for 2019.
"While a grant is welcome and support is necessary to enable impacted businesses to open their doors again, the blunt nature of the qualification criteria actually excludes a lot of the very businesses that need assistance at this time. Without assistance their survival hangs in the balance.
“Because it is based on the commercial rates a business paid in the previous year, it automatically excludes all those businesses that did not have a rates bill in 2019, and there are many.
"As it stands it precludes businesses on a range of levels, small new businesses for example with no rates bill from 2019. Also, businesses in a new premises waiting for a valuation to be carried out, those businesses that are appealing a rates valuation and are awaiting the outcome and businesses that do not operate from a premises and therefore never had a rates bill, for example, consultants, electricians, landscapers, photographers and many other more micro-businesses working from home.
"The SME sector should be the target for this grant, this is the employment engine of our economy, we need to get as many businesses open again as soon as possible. And in turn, get as many people back to work as possible.
"The UK grant scheme is more targeted, all businesses can make an application for support, the same should happen here. I am calling on the government to quickly deal with the Irish anomaly and get the supports in place as quick as possible." Cllr O'Rourke concluded.