Over €6m in funding for locked-down businesses in Midlands

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Digital Desk staff

Updated 4pm

Over €6 million in additional supports is being made available for the businesses in the Midlands, the Government has announced.

Businesses in Kildare, Laois and Offaly will be able to claim up to an additional €5,000 as part of the restart plus scheme, at a cost of between €3 and €4 million.

The restart grant plus scheme gives grants to businesses to help them reopen, and is a key part of the Government's July Stimulus package.

An additional €1 million is being assigned to the local enterprise offices, while another €1 million will be given to Fáilte Ireland to promote tourism when the local lockdown ends.

It does provide a template and a starting point that can be used again in the event of further restrictions having to be imposed in different local areas.

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said the Government recognised the impact restrictions have had on the local area: "The inconvenience, the impact on their day-to-day life, and also the impact on businesses and the local economy, and today's response is a recognition of that.

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"It does provide a template and a starting point that can be used again in the event of further restrictions having to be imposed in different local areas."

The localised lockdowns of Kildare, Laois and Offaly first came into force on August 7th due to rapidly rising Covid-19 case numbers, and are set to remain in place until August 22nd - provided the virus is stable in the counties at that time.

'Too little too late'

In response to the Government's funding announcement, Labour Enterprise Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the package of supports was “too little too late for struggling businesses in the region.”

“The Tánaiste should have prioritised announcing supports for the Midlands last Friday and not a week into the localised lockdown... the Government should have stepped in immediately last Friday with a substantial package of supports for affected businesses,” he said.

“A once-off additional payment of between €800 and €5,000 will not make a scintilla of difference for struggling businesses in Kildare, Laois and Offaly who have had to close for a second time due to no fault of their own,” he added.

“The Government need to go a lot further in supporting businesses in the Midlands. They should extend the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for the three counties beyond the end of August and introduce staycation vouchers to support local bars and restaurants.”

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Every day in the three counties is a lost day of revenue so time is of the essence and we need action.

After a meeting earlier this week with Tanáiste Leo Varadkar, local business leaders said they had expected extra financial aid to be confirmed today.

Chief executive of Laois Chamber, Bernie Everard, said the negative effects of the restrictions were more than just financial: "The reputational damage that it is doing to the three counties is huge.

"For example I was speaking to a hotelier who had a conference cancelled for November. Other hotels have had September and October bookings cancelled."

"Every day in the three counties is a lost day of revenue so time is of the essence and we need action," she added.

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