Minister announces once-off grant of up to €1,000 to re-start small businesses

School Meals Programme extended for summer 2020

Longford Leader Reporter

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Minister announces once-off grant of up to €1,000 to re-start small businesses

Minister Regina Doherty

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty today announced that her Department’s Enterprise Support Grant will now be made available to assist self-employed recipients who are exiting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) scheme with a once-off grant of up to €1,000 to re-start their business.

The Minister also announced that she was extending the School Meals Programme for summer 2020.

Enterprise Support Grant for Small Businesses

The Minister stated that the Enterprise Support Grant will now be made available to assist self-employed recipients who are exiting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) scheme.

This will provide owners with a once-off grant of up to €1,000 to re-start their business. €12m has been allocated for the extension of this grant.

The grant will be payable to self-employed micro enterprises which employ fewer than 10 people, have an annual turnover of less than €1 million and are not eligible for support from the COVID 19 Business Restart Grant or other similar business reopening grants.

Minister Doherty explained: “We want to get Ireland back working again. In many cases, this means tackling the roadblocks and obstacles which stop an otherwise viable business from getting back up and running or simply giving them a helping hand. It is crucial that we approach this task in an innovative and flexible manner and this is what underpins today’s announcement.

“Some small self-employed businesses may face difficulties in transitioning from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to a reliance on normal trading income, particularly in situations where normal trading conditions have not fully resumed.  The Enterprise Support Grant operated by my Department is normally paid to people who are in receipt of jobseeker payments who close their claim to start their own business/enter self-employment as a micro-enterprise. It usually helps people leave unemployment to start a new business but I am now going to apply the scheme to help existing small businesses – typically trades people or sole traders – return to work and to give that return a helpful boost.”

The extension of the grant to eligible recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will provide businesses with a once-off payment of up to €1,000.

The Grant will be awarded to tax and PRSI compliant self-employed individuals who:          

  • Have been in receipt of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and have closed their claim;
  • Have reopened their business; 
  • Employ fewer than 10 people;
  • Have an annual turnover of less than €1 million;
  • Are not eligible for other similar Covid business re-start grants from other Government Departments;
  • Are not liable for commercial rates;
  • Produce VAT receipts/invoices in respect of business re-start costs and expenses claimed.


It is envisaged that those who close their PUP claim will have a period of 4 weeks, from date of claim closure, within which to submit a claim. This is to allow time for claimants to incur the necessary expenditure, gather receipts and submit a claim.

Now that a decision has been taken to extend the scheme in this manner, the Department is developing the systems to put it into effect and will communicate how to access the grant in the coming weeks.  

School Meals Programme Available for the Summer

The programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children. The objective of the scheme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children who are unable, due to lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided to them.

Speaking today, Minister Doherty said: “Generally, the funding for the school meals programme ceases at the end of the school year –the end of May for post-primary schools and the end of June for primary schools. However, I want the scheme to be available over the summer period to ensure children who do not have access to nutritious food will continue to receive meals during the summer school holidays. 

“I am therefore making the programme available to all the schools and organisations currently in the programme over the summer for approximately nine weeks until the funding for the 2020/2021 school year commences.”

Funding School Meals Programme is for food items only and these must be of suitable nutritional quality. Funding under the scheme is based on the number of children and the type of meal being provided with priority given to schools which are part of the ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ (DEIS) scheme.  Since 2016 additional funding is available to all DEIS schools to provide breakfast and lunch to the majority of pupils. The total cost of the schools meals scheme in 2019 was €54m.

Generally, the School Meals Programme does not provide funding to cover school holidays or for days when the school is closed.  However, following consultation with the Department of Education and Skills, and with the support of education management bodies, it was agreed that funding under the School Meals Programme could be used to support participating schools that identify pupils who are unlikely to receive nutritious food during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and which were willing to set up a system to provide children with nutritious food while the schools are closed. This support can now continue during the summer.