€10m boost for small firms amid no-deal Brexit concerns

€10m boost for small firms amid no-deal Brexit concerns

The Government is set to make an extra €10m available for loans to some of the country’s smallest companies amid ongoing concerns of a no-deal Brexit by the end of this month.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys is expected to confirm the plans at today’s Cabinet meeting, during a wider Brexit discussion that will see EU health insurance and children’s supports services issues raised.

The Government’s Loan Fund Act currently allows for the microfinance sector to be given €25m to help small firms facing potential economic risks.

The money has been specifically ringfenced for ‘micro-enterprises’ which involve businesses employing 10 people or fewer since the start of the decade, and is available for the Micro- finance Ireland group’s existence.

However, as a direct result of the risk of a disorderly Brexit, the Government is set to move to prevent any potential problems for these small businesses by raising the amount of help available.

And, in a memo to Cabinet expected to be tabled today, Mr Humphreys will say that increasing the micro-enterprises funding by €10m will be crucial to protecting small businesses from the worst parts of the Brexit storm.

Ms Humphreys is also expected to ask cabinet colleagues to sign off on a suite of Brexit supports for other businesses due to the ongoing economic and political crisis.

It is expected she will say there is a need for Enterprise Ireland to be able to provide more competitive and flexible options for its companies through research and development grants to help them through the coming months.

The Cabinet meeting is also expected to hear Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone finalise changes to a law to ensure British citizens living in Ireland can still access all services for their children in a no-deal Brexit situation.

It is understood she will seek to make the changes in the Brexit Miscellaneous Provisions Bill as, under its current wording, there may be questions over whether a British family living here but who are yet to become Irish citizens could receive all services.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is also expected to tell Cabinet colleagues at today’s Cabinet meeting that all monetary limits outlined in next week’s budget must be adhered to.

It is believed he will impress the need for financial responsibility on his colleagues due in part to the financial difficulties Ireland could face if a no-deal Brexit strikes.

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