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LIMERICK-based small business lobby group SME Recovery Ireland has broadly welcomed this week’s Budget as a big step to help recover and sustain Ireland’s decimated SME sector.

The group  said it was particularly encouraged to see a number of SME focused supports it had called for including a €3.4 billion recovery fund  and a new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) which will pay up to €5,000 a week to businesses forced to close temporarily.

Other measures welcomed by the group included the extension of the tax warehousing scheme to include repayments of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme funds, the reduction in VAT for the hospitality sector to nine per cent and the extension of the Emergency Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) to next March.

SME Recovery Ireland Chairman John Moran said the budget was a welcome step in providing greater clarity and certainty to Ireland’s small business community.

“It is assuring to see Government commit to such a high level of expenditure to ensure economic stability during what looks to be a difficult year ahead and make use of the low interest rates available to Ireland for borrowing. Although much of the detail is yet to be announced we welcome the steps taken today.

“We are confident that Government is listening to the concerns of small business owners. We called for the introduction of a recovery fund and a compensation scheme last May and it is assuring to see elements of these proposals echoed in the Budget. T

“The introduction of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme is a particularly welcome measure and replicates the Danish style fixed cost compensations scheme we have been highlighting to Government.

“While the details of the €3.6 billion Recovery Plan are yet to be set out, we will be pushing for a significant proportion of this to be directed towards the SME sector, the country’s largest employer.

“We also recognise that there a significant emphasises on education, training and upskilling in the Budget and we see this as an excellent opportunity to introduce new business literacy support programmes to help build financial resilience in the SME sector. This is something that we have been putting forward to Government for consideration,” Mr Moran added.