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Application process for Bridging Assistance IV now open
Many companies continue to suffer from the impact of the ongoing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, companies can file applications for Bridging Assistance IV for the period from January to March 2022 at www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de. Applications must be made via a scrutinising third party, such as tax advisors. The exact requirements for funding have been published on the website in the form of FAQs. The proven requirements and conditions continue to apply.
Companies that are still being severely affected by Covid-related closures and restrictions in the first quarter of 2022 will continue to receive comprehensive support. The Federal Government assumes that, depending on how the pandemic develops, up to 100,000 companies, or possibly even more, may apply for assistance.
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, said: “The rapid spread of the Omikron variant is once again forcing us to all to live with restrictions. However, these restrictions are necessary to protect our health and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed. It is also clear that they represent yet another major burden for many companies and their employees, and this after they have been grappling with the pandemic for nearly two years, which has been a time of uncertainty, restrictions and worries – a time that has been extremely wearing for many people. I am therefore very pleased that we are able to deliver rapid assistance to the companies affected through the funding provided under Bridging Assistance IV, which will help to address at least some of the hardships. As of today, these companies can file applications for Bridging Assistance IV, and the first advance payments will already be made in the next few weeks.”
Minister Habeck went on to say the following: "We know that it is very complicated and expensive for many companies to implement 2G rules or other COVID-19 access restrictions. We have therefore further improved the assistance to help companies cope also with this very critical phase of the pandemic."
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the Federal Ministry of Finance are thus providing funding under Bridging Assistance IV not only for material costs but also for personnel costs arising to implement these access restrictions.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner said: "The COVID-19 pandemic is still placing a massive burden on companies in Germany. Our companies and their employees deserve the Federal Government's continued support. We have therefore decided to extend the Bridging Assistance until 31 March 2022, while further adapting it to the special needs of those affected. In particular, companies affected by the additional measures imposed to contain the pandemic, such as the 2G rules or the cancellation of Christmas markets, will receive targeted support. In this way, we are helping companies to mitigate the impact of the pandemic as best we can."
Applications for Bridging Assistance IV are to be filed via the usual platform www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de. The processing of applications in individual cases, including the decision on eligible fixed costs, continues to be handled by approval bodies in the Länder.
Supplementary information on Bridging Assistance IV for companies and New Start Assistance 2022 for own-account workers:
Bridging Assistance IV, which is to be provided for the funding period from January to March 2022, builds on the proven predecessor programme Bridging Assistance III Plus. The terms and conditions of the new programme are largely identical to those of Bridging Assistance III Plus. The predecessor programme was in place until 31 December 2021.
This means that all companies that have suffered a drop in revenue of at least 30 per cent on account of the pandemic are also eligible to apply for the assistance. Applications under the new programme must again be filed by a third party scrutinising the application, e.g. a tax advisor, and via the Federation’s COVID-19 web portal. As in the past, companies can receive up to €100,000 in advance payments per month.
Here are the main new features of Bridging Assistance IV:
More generous rules on the equity grant: All businesses that recorded an average decline in sales of at least 50 per cent in December and January will receive an equity grant of 30 per cent of the reimbursed fixed costs in each funding month in which they are eligible for funding support. Companies that were affected by the cancellation of Advent and Christmas markets and recorded a decline in revenue of at least 50 per cent in December will receive an equity grant of 50 per cent.
In January 2022, drops in revenue resulting from voluntary closures may also be recognised as Covid-related if maintaining business operations is uneconomical due to mandatory Covid-related access restrictions or similar measures. This allows these companies to apply for Bridging Assistance IV if they experience a drop in revenue of at least 30 per cent.
Funding support for costs incurred for supervising the implementation of access restrictions: By implementing access restrictions such as 2G or 2G plus rules, companies may incur additional material and personnel costs. These costs are recognised under Bridging Assistance IV.
The maximum funding amounts regulated by EU State aid law have been increased by a total of €2.5 million: Companies can now apply for funding of up to €2.3 million (previously €1.8 million) via the Federal Framework 'Small amounts of compatible aid' (Bundesregelung Kleinbeihilfe) and €12 million (previously €10 million) via the federal fixed-cost assistance scheme (Bundesregelung Fixkostenhilfe). In total, this means that companies can receive a maximum of €54.5 million in funding (previously €52 million).
The highest reimbursement rate is 90 per cent of the eligible fixed costs: Through the equity grant and the flat-rate assistance for personnel costs, companies can receive grants of 20 to 70 per cent on top of the reimbursement of fixed costs.
Cancellation of grants for investments in structural measures to implement hygiene concepts and digitalisation: These investment grants have successfully contributed to companies being able to make adjustments to continue business operations during the pandemic. After more than a year and a half into the pandemic, the necessary adjustments have been completed on a broad basis.
Special assistance will be provided to Advent and Christmas markets: Companies affected by the cancellations of these markets will receive a higher equity grant (see above), and will also be able to claim for costs arising from the cancellation and preparation for the months of September to December 2021 (similar to other event companies), as well as to combine various special funding measures offered for their industry.
Special rules for the pyrotechnics industry: Since the pyrotechnics industry was again affected by the ban on the sale of New Year's Eve fireworks, the proven special arrangement set out under the Bridging Assistance III programme for the previous year (New Year's Eve 2020) will be brought back.
Parallel to Bridging Assistance IV, funding under New Start Assistance 2022 is available as well. Like its predecessor programme, New Start Assistance 2022 continues to be aimed at own-account workers whose turnover has fallen due to COVID-19, but who derive little or no benefit from Bridging Assistance IV because they have low fixed costs. New Start Assistance is also available until the end of March 2022. It provides funding for own-account workers who continue to be able to receive up to €1,500 per month in direct grants, i.e. a total of up to €4,500.
In addition to own-account workers, and as was the case with New Start Assistance and New Start Assistance Plus, applications can also be filed by short-term employees in the performing arts sector, those in non-permanent employment in all sectors, joint stock companies, and by cooperatives.
Applications for New Start Assistance will presumably be able to be filed before the end of January 2022. The FAQs will be published in good time on the platform www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de.