Offaly TD worried about 'low uptake' in Covid-19 supports for businesses
Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan, has said she will be engaging with the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, and the Minister for Business, Heather Humphries, in order to assess why the approval rate for loans or supports under the various Covid-19 schemes appears to be so low.
Deputy Nolan went on to say that reviews around the operation of the schemes must be ongoing in order to ensure that small businesses can access the help that they require.
“Everyone from local traders to SMEs of all shapes and sizes are under enormous pressure at the moment. A good deal of this is down to the ongoing and obstructive reaction of the insurance sector who simply will not honour commitments to their clients," Deputy Nolan said.
"This is despite the fact that the Central Bank has warned insurers that if there is a doubt about the meaning of a term in a contract, the interpretation most favourable to the consumer should prevail.
"In addition to this, it is becoming clear that there may be difficulties in local traders and SME’s accessing many of the Covid-19 Support Schemes rolled out by government.
"The latest data made available to Oireachtas members indicates that only three businesses in Laois and four in Offaly have enquired about funding under the Microfinance Ireland Loans.
"In terms of the Covid-19 Business Continuity Voucher there have been 131 enquires from Offaly but only 81 applications have been approved. In Laois, there have been 63 enquires while only 36 have been approved for the Voucher.
"The same is true for the Trading Online Voucher. In Offaly there has been 12 enquires for this Voucher but 3 have been approved while in Laois, 11 traders have enquired but only two have been approved.
"It is fantastic that these businesses are getting support, but clearly we need to see why there is a growing gap emerging between those who feel they might need it and those who actually end up being approved.
"We should always be open to improving and tweaking the Schemes to ensure the maximum number of SME’s can benefit from them,” concluded Deputy Nolan.