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Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises across Dublin will receive funding to help vulnerable citizens during Covid-19, said Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins.

“I am delighted that €10.5 million has been allocated under Tranche One of the COVID-19 Stability Fund to a total of 179 organisations that provide critical services to those most vulnerable in society.

“The COVID-19 Stability Fund is intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19.

“There was considerable interest in the Stability Scheme, and the funding being announced today is the first tranche, with further tranches due to be announced in the coming weeks.

“Community and Voluntary organisations, along with Charities and Social Enterprises in our area have gone above and beyond in their response to the challenges presented by this pandemic and to assisting those most vulnerable in our communities.

“These organisations continued to carry out their essential work while restrictions stalled much activity and I, along with my colleagues in Government, commend them for that.

For that reason, I am delighted that Lucan Disability Action Group are one of the organisations selected and will receive €75,725 in funding to provide services. It is a wonderful organisation that aims to facilitate and promote independent living for people with disabilities around Lucan Palmerstown and Clondalkin. The work they have done and the support they have provided during the pandemic has been outstanding.

The Government recognised that organisations like Lucan Disability Action Group required help and additional resources to deliver these essential services and to cope with the inability to generate traded or fundraised income due to social restrictions.”

Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins has urged small and micro businesses across Dublin to apply for the new €250m Restart Grant, which will give direct grant aid to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures.

Deputy Higgins said: “The Grant will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or less, which were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to 30th June 2020.

“It is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers.

“The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019, with a minimum payment of €2,000 and a maximum payment of €10,000.”

Deputy Higgins continued: “I am acutely aware of the difficulties facing small businesses in Dublin during these challenging times.

“The Restart Grant is designed to help these businesses get back on their feet. The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety.

“Small businesses, whether it be the local hairdresser, café or clothes shop, are absolutely vital to the social fabric of our towns and villages throughout Dublin.

“In response to the very significant economic challenges posed by Covid-19, the Government has moved swiftly to introduce a range of measures to support enterprises of all sizes.

“These measures have included supports for wage costs, liquidity supports and the deferral or waiver of payments.

"The Restart Grant will further help to support activity and employment across Dublin,” Higgins said.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, said: “These businesses have made huge sacrifices to protect their employees and customers during COVID-19 and we want to help them get back up and running so that they can return to viability and contribute to the national economic recovery.

“These are small grants but they can make a big difference in terms of giving businesses an extra helping hand to open their doors again.”

Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online to local authorities from Friday 22nd May.

Processing of applications and payment of the Restart Grant will depend on the initial surge of applications but, as far as is feasible, will be prioritised according to scheduled re-opening dates in the national Roadmap.

This direct grant support is part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst our SMEs.

THE first steps for communities in Dublin to emerge from current Covid-19 restrictions and support businesses to reopen have been announced, a Fine Gael TD, Emer Higgins has said.

Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said a five-step, phased re-opening of the local economy and society in the coming months is the correct approach to take following the hard work and diligence shown by all in Dublin Mid West

“Ensuring we can begin Phase One on May 18th, as well as continuing to suppress the virus and reduce the spread of infection, must be everyone’s top priority. Together, we can help reduce the number of cases in Dublin Mid West by continuing to follow the health guidelines set out by the HSE.

“This week, we will begin to see some restrictions eased, including extending the exercise distance from your home to 5km and allowing those who are cocooning to take daily exercise, provided they have no contact with other people. However, it is important to note that it is possible for restrictions to be reintroduced if the rate of infection increases once again. This will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and Government.

“The framework set out by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the May Bank Holiday weekend aims to keep the rate of infection as low as possible while proportionately balancing continuing restrictions with the positive social and economic benefits brought about by lifting some restrictions,” Deputy Higgins said.

“Physical distancing must continue. There are five phases in the recovery roadmap to ease restrictions but we can only move from one phase to the next if the spread of the virus stays under control. There will be a long-term need for physical distancing, for good hand hygiene, for respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people to stay at home and isolate if they are sick.

“Entering the first phase in a safe and health-led manner has to be our priority. Let’s take it one step at a time.”

Phase One (18th May) measures include:

· 5km travel limit for exercise. Avoid unnecessary journeys. Small groups can meet outdoors.

· Childcare allowed for essential healthcare workers.

· Phased return of outdoor workers, provided physical distancing is adhered to. Remote working continues for all that can do so.

· Open retailers that are mainly outdoor & home-ware, e.g. opticians, motor/bicycle & repair, office products, electrical, IT, phone sales & repair. All subject to physical distancing.

· Open outdoor public amenities, including pitches, tennis courts and golf courses. Tourism sites, beaches and walking routes. Outdoor sporting and fitness activities, in groups max. four people can resume. Physical distancing must be adhered to.

· Social distancing and hygiene measures continue for public and private transport as passengers increase. Specific measures at ports and airports.

Deputy Higgins also said Fine Gael recognises people and businesses in Dublin Mid West have been impacted in an unprecedented and negative manner by the worldwide pandemic.

“A suite of measures have been announced to help local businesses restart, rehire and reopen as soon as possible, provided it is safe to do so. To date, we have introduced emergency income supports, such as the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Our focus now is to help get people back to work and reopen businesses. We will help them as they plan for the future and adapt to the ‘new normal’.”

The new measures for businesses are:

  • A €10,000 restart grant for micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019;

  • A three-month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses;

  • A €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms;

  • A €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to support lending to SMEs for terms ranging from 3 months to 6 years, which will be below market interest rates;

  • The ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of twelve months after recommencement of trading during which time there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt;

  • A commitment to local authorities to make up the rates shortfall, so that local authorities can continue provide full services to the public

“I would like to thank all my Fine Gael colleagues in Government who have worked so diligently. This is an unprecedented time and there is no manual on how best to deal with a crisis of this nature. With the spirit and courage shown by all in Dublin Mid West since this began, I am absolutely confident we can come out of this stronger and more united than ever before.” Deputy Higgins said.

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