The government has launched a €330 million scheme to help farmers, SMEs and fishers respond to the ongoing impacts of Brexit.

The Brexit Impact Loan Scheme (BILS) is a successor to the Brexit Loan Scheme and provides low-cost loans to eligible Brexit-impacted businesses.

The new scheme is open to businesses in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors and the loans under the scheme are for terms of up to six years.

The scheme is delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders.

Brexit and pandemic the ‘perfect storm’

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said that the combination of Brexit and the pandemic has “created the perfect storm for many businesses, particularly those in our agri-food industry”.

“This new Brexit Impact Loan Scheme gives those who need it access to low-cost loans of between €25,000 and €1.5 million,” he said.

“These loans can be used to invest in new technologies, necessary upgrades or changes to the business, or even new staff.

“It can also be used to help with liquidity or, in some instances, refinancing of existing loans.

“I hope this scheme is another weapon in the armoury of businesses who are still adapting to a post-Brexit trading environment.”

Brexit Impact Loan Scheme ‘to offer broader terms’

In response to feedback about the previous Brexit Loan Scheme, steps have been taken to “simplify the application process”, while the lending is now available for longer terms, in line with lending offered under the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that “we are all aware that the agri-food sector is uniquely exposed to the economic disruption arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU”. He said he remains committed to providing supports to those in the sector.

The coming year will bring “new challenges to many Irish SMEs as the UK phases in border controls, with timeframes for certain sectors now spread across 2022” Jane Butler, CEO of SBCI said.

“When in place, these controls will particularly affect key sectors in our economy, such as primary agriculture, seafood and food and drink, and we have designed the BILS to offer broader terms that will be of significant benefit to SMEs in these and other sectors,” Butler added.