New survey evidence on COVID-19 and Irish SMEs: Measuring the impact and policy response
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In this paper, we use new survey data on the Irish SME population to trace out the impact of the pandemic on ﬁrms’ revenues, their capacity to adjust their cost base and their usage of policy supports. Between March and October 2020 over 70 per cent of ﬁrms experienced some fall in turnover with a median fall of 25 per cent compared to 2019. The impact of the shock appears uncorrelated with past ﬁrm performance which highlights its exogenous nature. Expenditure fell by 8.5 per cent on average with 40 per cent of ﬁrms cutting spending. Losses were incurred in over 30 per cent of enterprises with a further 30 per cent just breaking even. We ﬁnd that about 61 per cent of SMEs received wage subsidies, 20 per cent of ﬁrms used tax warehousing while fewer than 6 per cent of ﬁrms used lending initiatives. Policy support take-up is more likely among those more aﬀected by the downturn, while the smallest ﬁrms appear less likely to use support than larger ﬁrms.