Public Policy Bulletin, 12 June 2020

Jun 12, 2020


In our latest Public Policy news, the Government has announced a further expansion of €14.2 billion of Trading Online Schemes, as a part of their ongoing COIVD-19 response. You can also read the Parliamentary Budget Office’s analysis of the various COVID-19 Government supports for businesses in Ireland, and how Ireland ranks 6th in the European Commission’s latest Digital Economy and Society Index.


€14.2 million expansion COVID-19 supports announced to help small businesses

Ministers Humphreys and Bruton announced earlier this week, a major expansion of €14.2 million of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to help small and micro enterprises to get online quickly. The Scheme is being expanded after the Local Enterprise Offices received three years’ worth of applications in three months following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland. Following a previous expansion of the Scheme in early April, total additional funding for the Scheme is now almost €20m in 2020.

Under the Scheme, small businesses can claim up to €5,000 in two grants worth €2,500 each. The Scheme also facilitates subscriptions to low-cost online retailing platform solutions to quickly establish a retailing presence online.

Trading Online Vouchers can be used for:

  • development or upgrade of an e-commerce website, such as implementing online payments or booking systems
  • purchase of internet related software - online advertising (subject to limits)
  • development of an app
  • development and/or implementation of a digital marketing strategy
  • consultation with ICT experts
  • training and support to develop and manage your online trading activity and subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions

For further details, visit the Trading Online Voucher Scheme page.



Useful summary of COVID-19 Government supports for business

As a part of their Expenditure Analysis Series, the Parliamentary Budget Office (“PBO”) have released their COVID-19 Government Supports for Business summary (PBO publication 36 of 2020). In the paper, they mainly analyse:

  • The broad range of supports announced since 8 April 2020
  • How these supports will function makes analysis challenging, particularly when determining both the direct and the potential cost to the Exchequer
  • Categorisation of schemes, as Grant aid Schemes, Loans/Guarantee Schemes or Forgone income. This categorisation is based on whether they relate to supports which incur spending, create contingent liabilities, or result in forgone income
  • Indirect fiscal measures, such as loan guarantees, state aid and Government co-investments

The paper also states that while the direct impact of the schemes on the Exchequer is negative, the focus should be on the potential benefits generated by them. These schemes are intended to enable enterprises to survive through the challenges posed by the pandemic, thereby securing jobs and protecting the economy.

You can read the full paper here: COVID-19 Government Supports for Business



Ireland ranks 6th amongst member states in Commission’s digital resilience report

The European Commission on Thursday 11 June 2020, released the results of the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index (“DESI”), which monitors Europe's overall digital performance and tracks the progress of EU countries with respect to their digital competitiveness. This year's DESI shows that there is progress in all Member States and all key areas measured in the index. The study positions Ireland in sixth place overall in Europe, having made most progress in the EU. Ireland’s DESI profile can be downloaded here.

The DESI is composed of five principal policy areas, which group 37 indicators overall:


Fixed broadband take-up, fixed broadband coverage, mobile broadband, and broadband prices

Human capital

Internet user skills and advanced skills

Use of internet

Citizens' use of internet services and online transactions

Integration of digital technology

Business digitisation and e-commerce

Digital public services



Furthermore, the DESI indicators relevant for a post-COVID-19 recovery show that EU Member States should step up their efforts to improve the coverage of Very High Capacity Networks, assign 5G spectrum to enable the commercial launch of 5G services, improve citizens' digital skills and further digitise businesses and the public sector.

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