There have been calls for the Government to take greater action to protect small businesses in the wake of the coronavirus.

A number of finance companies have grouped together to make proposals to the State's Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland - while proposals have also been made directly to Government.

One of the companies to do so - peer-to-peer lender Grid Finance.

"We've submitted two plans now to Government," said CEO Derek Butler. "The first plan is to fundamentally recapitalise the small business sector we've seen extraordinary emotional and financial distress amongst our clients over the past week and we know how under-capitalised this sector is for this crisis."

The core of this plan would see the Government make €6 billion in finance available to small businesses. Meanwhile tax reliefs and write-offs worth €4 billion would also be provided.

"The plan is immediately executable and implementable, because it leverages the tools we used to recapitalise the banking system ten years ago, and we are calling on the Government to immediately implement that plan," he said.

Mr Butler also said Grid Finance had teamed up with other peer-to-peer lenders - Linked Finance and Grenke Finance - to seek €500m in emergency working capital support from small businesses.

He said they had three 'shovel-ready' products ready to go to support businesses, but they required Government support in order to get them going.

Mr Butler said this was about protecting people's livelihoods, and the country did not need to let its small businesses fail. This would also protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the economy, he said.

The small business sector is an extremely diverse one - and any recapitalisation would involve lots of small loans to very different businesses.

However Mr Butler said companies like his had the tools to manage this and ensure the finance was being properly allocated.

"This is where the nimbleness and the flexibility of ourselves comes in," he said. "We've already adjusted our credit models to allow for the fact that this Covid-19 crisis has changed the ground underneath small businesses.

"We're applying viability tests to support businesses that now look fragile, but actually were absolutely viable before the Covid crisis."

He said the company had also taken steps of its own to help ease the burden caused by the current crisis.

"We absolutely will look at our own fees through the crisis - we're already working with our customers to help them through it, giving them payment holidays, payment breaks and providing them with fresh capital where they're continuing to trade," he said.