Fianna Fáil Leader and TD for Cork South Central Micheál Martin has called on the Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation to outline when funding for the expansion of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme will be available to Local Enterprise Offices.

The Local Enterprise Office in Cork city has issued an update on the scheme on its website stating that it is “pausing the scheme and not in a position to accept any further applications”, however in reply to a Parliamentary Question from my Party, the Minister says the scheme “is being expanded” with an additional €3.3m being provided.

Deputy Martin said, “The Trading Online Vouchers Scheme has provided a lifeline to so many small businesses here in Cork and around the country in the midst of this pandemic. With shops and businesses closed as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, online shopping has been the only option for business owners and their customers.

“I’ve been contacted by a number of businesses who have had difficulty accessing the scheme in Cork city in recent days. They’re being told that the scheme has been paused because it has reached its funding limit, which is in stark contrast to the Minister’s announcement that the scheme is being expanded.

“It may be a case that there may be a time lag between the announcement and the release of funds but I am calling on Minister Humphreys to clarify the situation. Businesses, particularly small businesses, need all the supports they can get in this unprecedented and challenging time. It is important that this funding is released without delay so that the application process can reopen and these businesses can get their online presence up and running”.