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Minister says three pillar banks 'will support businesses' through coronavirus crisis

Heather Humphreys said there will be emergency working capital and payment flexibility on borrowings.

Image: Shutterstock

MINISTER FOR BUSINESS Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys has said the three pillar banks AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have assured her that they will support businesses through the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.

Earlier today the government announced all schools and colleges would close and asked businesses to facilitate employees working at home, where possible.

Humphreys said a lot of businesses have shown a great flexibility already.

“As we move into this new phase, we would encourage those who can allow their employees to work from home to do so. And of course that is in the knowledge that there are many workings for whom remote working is not feasible and it’s not possible.

“But there are other means such as flexible hours, staggering work times and break times, teleworking arrangements and using email and teleconferencing to reduce face-to-face meetings or gatherings.”

On Monday a package of support for businesses was announced and today Humphreys said she had met with the three pillar banks and received their assurance that business customers will be supported. 

“The impact of this crisis will be severe – but it will end – and government and the banks will work together to do what is needed to support the cash needs of businesses as they work their way through it. 

I would urge all businesses to engage with your bank, agree financing needs over the coming period and restructure as appropriate.

She said businesses will be able to avail of emergency working capital from these three banks, as well as payment flexibility on borrowings and trade finance for those sourcing products from new suppliers internationally as the virus plays havoc on supply chains”.

Businesses experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the outbreak are advised to:

  1. Contact your Bank or Finance provider to talk about your financing needs
  2. Consider the use of the State’s Credit Guarantee Scheme which supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be through the Pillar Banks or through the SBCI website.
  3. Microenterprises can access loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland.  Applications can be made through the MFI website or through your local LEO.
  4. Consider the SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses will be available within the next week. Applications can be made through the SBCI website.

“This situation is changing rapidly, and I want to assure businesses that I am monitoring the situation closely and will continue to respond to support and protect businesses,” she said.

‘Sensible and level-headed’

Earlier today Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said people should continue to go to work if they can can but where possible should work from home.

“In order to reduce unnecessary face to face interaction in the workplace, break times and working times should be staggered and meetings done remotely or by phone. Public transport will continue to operate.

“The shops will remain open and we have plans to ensure that supply chains will not be interrupted.

“We need the public and businesses to take a sensible and level-headed responsible approach.”

He said restaurants, cafes and other businesses can stay open but “should look at ways that they can implement the public health advice on social distancing”.

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