The funding levels for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme falls “significantly short” of what is needed to help support businesses recovering from COVID-19 Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice claims.
Funding for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme this year is being expanded by €14.2 million which, after it was already expanded in April, brings the total amount of additional funding granted for the scheme this year to almost €20 million.
However, Michael Fitzmaurice said that demand for the scheme is “through the roof” and that this extra money will only cover applications which have already been made.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme offers businesses with up to 10 employees the ability to claim two vouchers, each worth up to €2,500, to help them expand their online presence.
Last year the scheme saw a total of 1,218 applications, but this year there were 3,962 applications made between March and early June alone.
That’s three years worth of applications in ordinary circumstances, made to Local Enterprise Offices around the country in the space of just three months.
Speaking on the matter, Fitzmaurice said “The COVID-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on businesses all around the country and they will require a variety of supports if they are to get back up and running.”
“We rely on these businesses to get people back to work and to keep communities going,” he said, dding that having a “strong online presence” will be a big help in sustaining businesses and helping them recover.
The voucher scheme is targeted at businesses which have little to no existing e-commerce presence, and can be used to help them in various ways such as adding payment options to their website or developing apps for customer use.
The scheme also requires businesses to have been trading for at least six months, and have an annual turnover of less than €2 million.
“When the additional funding was announced recently, it was allocated to applications that were already on hand,” Fitzmaurice said, describing the scheme as “significantly oversubscribed”.
“With all the talk around supporting SMEs and getting the country back up and running again, the department and the Government need to find funding to make a further allocation to this scheme”