Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis in March, 1819 has received over 33.913 enquiries concerning the grants available, the “droit passerelle” relief package, the guidelines on opening and the support available. To give you a clearer picture, we have compiled the 6 most frequently asked questions received by the 1819 service, both by phone and by email.
1. Am I entitled to a grant?
The three regions of Belgium offer several grants to support businesses through these difficult times. In the Brussels Region, applicants can apply for most grants via Brussels Economy and Employment
The following grants are currently available:
- Hotel and aparthotel grant (minimum €20,000): apply by 13 November
- “Event industry” grant (between €3000 and €9000): apply by 4 December
- “Culture” grant for not-for-profits (€4000): apply by 23 November
The café and restaurant grant (€3000 per establishment) will be available from 17 November and applications must be submitted by 4 December.
The Brussels Region also grants exceptional, unique and individual aid to intermittent cultural workers. The application is to be submitted on the Actiris site.
In light of the new measures that came into force on Friday 29 October, these new grants are intended to support Brussels-based businesses directly affected.
Some municipalities are also offering support. Check their websites or contact them directly to find out what you’re entitled to!
2. Am I entitled to the bridging right ("droit passerelle” relief) ?
The self employed (both individuals and small business owners) have been entitled to support since the start of the crisis, under certain conditions. Currently, there are 4 different types of bridging right, detailed on the INASTI website:
- Bridging right for business-resumption support
- Bridging right for those who have temporarily ceased trading
- Bridging right for individuals quarantining, or whose children’s school/nursery is closed
- Bridging right for other circumstances (in particular bankruptcy)
The amount of bridging right paid is expected to be doubled for the months of October and November in certain sectors. Given the rapidly-evolving nature of the situation, the best option is to contact your local Social Insurance Fund and check which of these you are entitled to.
Applications for the bridging right are made via your Social Insurance Fund.
3. What loans are currently available to help me refill the coffers?
There are currently several types of loan to help alleviate your cash flow issues:
- The “Recover” cash flow loan from Brusoc (finance&invest.brussels) of a maximum of 15,000 euros (at a reduced rate of interest), designed for sole traders and VSEs. Request an application form by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Specialised loans for the hospitality sector from finance.brussels:
- Key suppliers in the hospitality sector may be able to obtain a low interest loan, which would enable them to offer deferred payment options to businesses in the hospitality sector;
- Low interest loans are available to hospitality businesses that employ at least 10 people FTE.
- Microcredit institutions (Crédal, microStart, Hefboom, etc.) have received support from the public authorities so they can offer additional loans to entrepreneurs.
- The Proxi loan launched by the Brussels Region on 15 October: uses the savings of individuals, often referred to as “Family, Friends and Fools” to fund self-employed individuals and SMEs in Brussels. By offering this loan, individual lenders are entitled to a tax break in the form of an annual tax credit.
4. Is there any specific support to help me pay my commercial rent?
Rent is often among the most significant expenses for businesses in Brussels. We have received many requests for support in this area.
A measure concerning rents is being prepared by the Brussels Government. It should be announced in the coming weeks.- The City of Brussels provides assistance to tenants of (commercial and residential) property belonging to the Property Management Agency (Régie Foncière) and the Public Welfare Centre (CPAS).
We therefore recommend seeking an arrangement with your landlord, such as deferment of payment. Of course some landlords are also in a difficult situation... Engage in constructive dialogue to find a solution that works well for both parties!
If necessary, you can call on the services of a mediator. To do so, contact the Centre for businesses in difficulty.
5. What tax breaks are available to me ?
The federal authorities have introduced a series of measures aimed at reducing the tax burden on Belgian companies. Here are three of them:
- Tax exemptions for future trading losses (“carryback”)
- Temporary reduction in the VAT rate for the hospitality sector
- Change to the percentage of income tax paid in advance
A full list of tax measures is available on the FPS Finances website.
If you are self employed and need to do so due to your financial situation, you can also apply to your local Social Security Office for a reduction in social security contributions.
In light of the second wave, new measures are being considered on the federal level.
6. Who can advise me on getting through this crisis, and how ?
The Region has established an emergency support system to help businesses on all levels (psychological, financial, legal, etc.), throughout this unprecedented crisis.
The emergency support team pools the combined skills of key stakeholders in the region, including the Centre for Businesses in difficulty (CED) and hub.brussels, which is coordinating the regional team. On a more local level, the Local Economy Offices (GEL) and Job Self-Creation Platforms (ACE) are also contributing to the project. finance&invest.brussels is also participating as a provider of financial solutions for businesses.
If you would like to apply for this support, please complete the online form and you will be referred to the appropriate agency.