ISME welcome the improvements in the COVID-19 Income Support Scheme, which will maintain a high level of income support for workers up to the average industrial wage should the companies they work choose to enter this scheme. However, we must remember that without aggressive action to introduce liquidity into the market, workers in Irish SMEs who avail of this income support will not have jobs to return to in a matter of weeks.
The schemes currently on offer through the SBCI, the Credit Guarantee Scheme, or the Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 Business Loan scheme, while comprehensive, are overly complex, too expensive, or both. We need easy-to-access funds, based on first quarter payroll expenditure, offered on low, zero, or negative rates of finance.
Many of ISMEs members businesses have already been closed, earning no revenues, for two weeks. This catastrophic loss of revenue for many SMEs will force their hand to make choices with respect to their scarce cash resources. ISME has had numerous calls from businesses unable to collect payment on December and January invoices. This will only worsen.
Small and medium enterprises are sitting on what little cash they have left, if any; and considering whether it is possible for them to pay the invoices sitting on their own desks. Councils like Dublin City are refusing to do anything more than deal with businesses ‘sympathetically,’ while banks will pursue loan repayments within a matter of months, and Revenue has only issued guidance on payments due to the end of February.