Several critical business supports have been provided by Donegal County Council to many businesses in the county since the pandemic began.
These supports included several grant schemes and initiatives delivered through the Council’s Finance Directorate and Local Enterprise Office.
Within months of the pandemic in 2020, the Finance Directorate of the Council delivered two major support schemes, namely the Covid-19 Business Restart Grant Scheme and the Commercial Rates Waiver Scheme.
Throughout 2020, grants were paid out to 4,388 businesses under the Covid-19 Business Restart Scheme to a value of €24.3 million. The scheme was fully funded by central government. These grants provided a critical cash-flow lifeline to many businesses, and could be used towards the cost of reopening, replenishing stock, defraying fixed costs, paying suppliers, or putting in place measures to keep its customers and employees safe.
Council staff worked weekends and late into the night to ensure these grants were paid as early as possible.
These grants were widely welcomed by the business community as the grants helped businesses to absorb some of the financial impact caused by the pandemic.
In addition, businesses that were adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic were granted a nine-month (75%) waiver of their Commercial Rates liability for 2020.
The total cost of the waiver amounted to approximately €14.9 million. 4,159 businesses, equivalent to approximately 72% of the Council’s rateable properties, were granted the waiver in 2020. The cost of applying the waiver was fully compensated by central government.
During 2020, the Council’s Local Enterprise Office experienced unprecedented demand from local businesses for a wide range of supports arising from the uncertainty associated with Covid-19 and Brexit. In 2020, over 1,200 applications from Donegal businesses were approved for supports provided in the form of Business Continuity Vouchers, Trading Online Vouchers and Mentoring at a total cost of almost €2.2 million.
Donegal County Council continued to provide important business supports throughout 2021. A new targeted grant scheme for small businesses, the Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid (SBASC), was administered by the Council’s Finance Directorate. Grant funding in the amount of €619,000 was provided to 163 eligible businesses under this scheme during 2021.
The Commercial Rates Waiver Scheme continued throughout 2021, albeit on a more targeted basis as some business sectors reopened during the year. A total of €11.9 million of Commercial Rates liabilities were waived for approximately 2,800 businesses. This scheme has continued into Q1 2022.
In summary, the value of these pandemic supports provided by Donegal County Council to Donegal businesses during 2020 and 2021 was as follows:
Restart Grants 2020 €24.3m
Commercial Rates Waivers 2020 €14.9m
Commercial Rates Waivers 2021 €12m
SBASC Grants €0.6m
LEO Supports €2.2m
Total €54 million