Berlin (dpa) – Companies in partial lockdown should receive the first aid funds for November from the end of the month. This should happen in the form of advances, as the federal government announced on Thursday.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) also announced an increase in aid above the ten billion euros previously planned. It could be a few billion euros more. Scholz justified this with more precise calculations.
Specifically, the self-employed must receive an advance of up to 5,000 euros, companies up to 10,000 euros. According to the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the application should be launched fully electronically via the platform www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de in the last week of November, probably on November 25. Applications should be easy and without bureaucracy. To prevent abuse, “measures” are provided to ensure the identity of the applicant, he said. The ministries were not more specific.
The procedure for the regular payment of November aid will be prepared and finalized in parallel, so that it can start immediately after the advance payments, he said. The money for November aid comes from the existing bridge aid pot, from which billions have not flowed.
The federal government had promised grants for restaurants and freelancers like artists, who have been affected by officially-ordered closures in the fight against the spread of the corona virus since early November. For the vast majority of companies, grants will be awarded amounting to 75 per cent of average turnover in November 2019. Grants greater than € 1 million must be approved by the EU Commission.
Work is still ongoing on the implementation of these recurring grants. An IT platform needs to be reprogrammed and deals are planned with the federal states. Therefore, there should now be upfront payments.
However, the big question is whether they will arrive quickly enough. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) said: “We are not going to leave our companies and their employees alone in this dire situation.” A quick start of payment is vital for many freelancers and small businesses. Altmaier had come under increasing criticism in recent days. Business associations had accused him of slow implementation of aid, and coalition partner SPD also lobbied him.
In many pubs and restaurants, sales have plummeted since closings earlier this month, artists and other freelancers no longer checkout. However, rental or energy costs still have to be paid.
The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) reported an unprecedented drop in sales earlier in the week. According to the association, 71 percent of hotel and restaurant companies currently see their existence at risk.
During a dialogue between Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and trainees and coaches on Thursday, a Berchtesgaden hotel manager said the partial closure: “This is a disaster for us.” Hotels cannot accept tourists in November. But business people rarely come to Berchtesgaden, the hotel manager said. You have “zero” guests. Merkel said she knew how difficult the situation was. But you have to get off the high crown numbers.
Businesses now receive partial payments first. It is not clear how they will then be compensated with the regular subsidies. Then there is the question of what the federal and state governments will decide next Monday. The number of new infections remains at a high level, even if the curve has flattened. But will the tough measures extend beyond November, or even toughen up? Then politicians would be pressured to extend aid.
With the help of November, there should now be no improvements to existing specs, as Scholz made clear. Individual sectors like the travel industry had bitterly complained that they were getting nothing. Countries had also asked for improvements. These were mainly companies that are indirectly affected by restaurant closures, for example.
Massive criticism from retailers also came. The stores are open under certain conditions. However, according to industry information, restrictions, for example in the restaurant sector, mean that urban centers are significantly more empty. “Retail in city centers is facing bankruptcy in many places,” said HDE Industry Association General Manager Stefan Genth. Sales would drop enormously. In general, the financial reserves themselves have already been depleted by company closings during the spring close. Without emergency help from the government there is a risk of “deforestation” in city centers.