Just 10% of a Government loan scheme to help companies to deal with the impact of Brexit has been accessed.

A number of schemes have been put in place to help companies cushion the impact of Britain leaving the EU. However, new figures show that take up in many cases had been slow.

The Brexit Loan Scheme, with a value of €300 million, provides short-term working capital to help businesses to mitigate their Brexit challenges.

Of 729 applications received so far, 661 companies have been deemed eligible by the Strategic Banking Corporation (SBCI), which delivers the scheme through participating banks.

Just 173 loans have progressed to sanction at bank level. They amount to €38.5m or just a tenth of the overall fund.

But the latest drawdown figures at the end of June were even lower, at approximately €26m, according to the SBCI.

The business group, ISME, says this reflects an unwillingness to commit to fresh borrowing in such uncertain times.

The 'Be Prepared Grant' offers a sum of €5,000 to help companies cover the cost of drawing up a Brexit plan It is available to 5,000 small businesses and so far 199 have been approved.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme is a fund of €300m, to help with machinery, equipment and innovation to future proof businesses.

So far, 117 loans have progressed to sanction at bank level, to the value of just under €18m.

Business groups say the low take up of the scheme reflects an unwillingness to commit to fresh borrowing in such uncertain times.

ISME Chief Executive Neil McDonnell said: "Consistent feedback we're getting from the membership is we're getting into very choppy waters, very uncertain time economically and politically, and the last thing most of our members want to do is take on debt."

The Opposition said the take up is worryingly low.

Fianna Fáil's Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers said: "The Government have taken quite a hands-off approach. It's been an information campaign but that's really been the extent of it.

"Small hauliers and small businesses need more help and they need it now."

Govt appeals to businesses to make Brexit preparations

The Government has made a direct appeal to a number of sectors that it is concerned are not properly prepared for Brexit, asking them to take the necessary steps.

It says contingency planning has shown that there are six sectors where the level of preparedness is particularly low.

The sectors include smaller businesses who may not realise they are trading with the UK, as well as construction businesses, manufacturing companies and agri-food firms.

Many retailers, particularly independent shops sourcing goods from the UK, are also not ready as are those involved in the haulage business, the Governments says.

With just ten weeks to go to the Brexit deadline of 31 October and the risk of a no-deal exit rising, the Government has outlined nine steps all businesses must take to prepare.

These include understanding new rules for UK importing and exporting, reviewing supply chains and UK market strategy and being aware of possible changes to transport and logistics.

Reviewing certification, regulation and licencing, as well as contracts and data management are also recommended.

Cash flow, currency and banking management steps are also suggested.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, urged action.

"It is only by Government, businesses and citizens working together nationally and with our EU partners that we can aim to mitigate as far as possible the impacts of a no-deal Brexit, and ensure that we are as prepared as we can be for the changes it will bring," he said.

The Government said that since the last update to the Brexit Contingency Action Plan last month, a range of further steps have been taken.

These include the start of a second round of direct engagement by Revenue with businesses it sees as being potentially affected by the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

An initiative aimed at preparing companies trading with or through the UK prepare for customs changes is also continuing, with free training and a possible €6,000 grant on offer.

The financial aid fund to help support beef farmers has also begun taking applications.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe pointed to the importance of companies trading with the UK getting a customs registration, known as an EORI number.

"Having an EORI number is a necessary first step in being able to trade with the UK post Brexit," he said.

"If your business hasn't got an EORI, make sure you don't leave your business at a disadvantage, take that first step and apply for your EORI now. Businesses are putting the future viability of their business in jeopardy if they do not prepare for Brexit."

Further practical information is available at gov.ie/brexit.

Additional reporting Will Goodbody