The Irish SME Association (ISME) has released a new COVID-19 report. This survey was conducted in the final week of January with 362 SME owner-manager respondents.
The research shows that 27% of businesses have availed of a Restart Grant, a 7% decrease on the 35% who had applied in November. The survey found that 69% of respondents are availing of the TWSS or EWSS, making wages supports by far the largest liquidity solution availed of by business. Just 11% of those surveyed are availing of the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme.
Furthermore, the number of respondents who believe their business will cease trading has dropped from 5% in April to less than 1% in November. The number who believe they can keep trading for more than 9 months has increased from 20% in April to 58% in November.
Almost 64% of SMEs have yet to seek assistance from their banks. While 19% of businesses are owed money by the State. Of those, 32% are owed less than €10,000, and 47% are owed between €10,000 and €250,000.
Commenting on the research, ISME CEO, Neil Mc Donnell said, "The main liquidity support being availed of by small business is the EWSS. With more than two-thirds of SMEs on the EWSS, it is vital that this support, as well as the CRSS, should continue for at least two months beyond the lifting of lockdown. In addition, we believe the so-called VAT reduction to 21% should be made permanent."
He added, "The 23% rate was a temporary measure introduced at the same time as
the 9% rate for hospitality. While the latter rate has ceased, the 23% VAT appears to have been forgotten about. The continued viability of many SMEs remains in doubt."