Chambers Ireland is urging the Government to substantially rethink and refresh the range of Covid-19 supports available to businesses over the coming months. 

Ian Talbot, Chambers Ireland's chief executive, has today called on the Government to urgently examine the suitability and effectiveness of the existing supports for businesses. 

Mr Talbot said the supports should be expanded and a clear transition process for their gradual removal to allow time for businesses to recover in the period immediately after restrictions are eased should also be looked at. 

"Our network of Chambers is hearing that the criteria for accessing schemes are far too narrow. Wage supports and grant payments are helping qualifying businesses, but too few businesses qualify," he said.

The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is limited to businesses that are public facing, which excludes many businesses that have been told to shut in the latest wave of restrictions, he explained. 

Non-essential retailers may receive assistance because of the closures but their suppliers do not, he added. 

Chambers Ireland said it had raised such problems with the Department of Finance while the Finance Bill was being drafted in the autumn, during what were then localised lockdowns.

"The current, even more stringent, restrictions mean that far more businesses have been shuttered. It is now even more important that support schemes are expanded so that they are effective," Chambers Ireland said. 

"If CRSS itself cannot be revised immediately, then new payments that support business that have been forced to close are needed," it added.

Chambers Ireland said the "prudent action" for Government is to support the business community during this crisis with supports ambitious enough to meet the challenges that the economy faces, supports that are administratively simple and easy to access.

"Without this intervention, the growing debt burden experienced by businesses will likely trigger a wave of insolvencies and job losses that will permanent scar local economies throughout the country," it warned.

"Such a crisis risks hobbling the national economy just as we need it to rebound," it added.