Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, and Spokesperson for Communications, Jennifer Whitmore has called for the Government to move quickly to provide additional funding to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOV) for small businesses, after it has come to light that new applications for the scheme have been stalled due to a lack of funding.

The Trading Online Grant Scheme was implemented a number of years ago to assist small businesses trade online. Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in each county were tasked with administering the scheme.

However, it has come to light that due to unprecedented levels of applications in many counties the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is currently over-subscribed with no new applications being accepted or processed at this time. It appears that no indication has been given by the Department of Communications, which established the scheme, when funding for the scheme will recommence.

Jennifer Whitmore said:

“The Trading Online Vouchers scheme has been ongoing for a number of years. It is a very important support for the small business community and even more so since the emergence of COVID19.

“However, a number of LEOs have recently indicated that due to unprecedented demand, funding to the scheme has been stopped with no indication as to when the scheme will resume. I have spoken to a number of business owners across my own area of Wicklow who are very concerned about the viability of their business and are hoping to get online quickly to adapt to the pandemic – I am sure this is replicated across the country. Without access to this funding, it is now difficult for business owners to take these next steps to protect their business.

“I have written to the Minister for Communications who initiated the scheme, and the Minister for Business calling on them to urgently reinstate funding and ensure that this valuable tool is adequately and sustainably funded as the business community adapts to a recovering economy.

“It is worrying that sufficient funds were not made available for this important programme and broader questions need to be asked as to whether other emergency supports are also adequately funded to see our small businesses through the pandemic. As phases of the roadmap begin to progress sooner than expected it is even more important that small businesses in particular are supported as we transition from the pandemic and begin to rebuild our economy. Their needs, as a key employer in Ireland, must be central to any decisions with regards to the recovery of our economy.”

5th June 2020

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