How to get financial help to renovate your business in a post-Corona world

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After more than a year of severe lockdowns and forced business closures that have harmed most of the world economies, it now seems we are about to turn a corner. Thanks to mass-vaccination programmes, countries are quickly coming out of the third COVID-19 pandemic wave. The economic engine is finally revving up as people are eager to go out, eat at a restaurant and go on holiday. As life begins to resemble something close to normal, for businesses this means the much-awaited return of in-store shoppers, diners, drinkers. Competition is bound to be fierce, and many small businesses face a daunting dilemma:

How do I get back up to speed and renovate my property to attract new business when my finances have been depleted by months of closure and reduced operations?

Thankfully in many countries the government is ready to help, with public incentives and programmes of a scale unheard of since the end of WWII. To help you navigate through these complex programmes, we have analysed the offers in a number of key countries to see which sections are targeted to help small businesses and homeowners willing to renovate their properties.

We currently have information about aid programmes in the following 7 countries. Many more countries are still missing, and we would like to add them to the list. Please help us to complete the list by sending us information about aid programmes in your country.



  Germany

Thanks to a strong economy and a healthy balance sheet, Germany has so far provided some of the most comprehensive packages to help businesses overcome the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Which programs are available?

A third comprehensive package called “Corona-Überbrückungshilfe III” was recently approved and put into force by the federal government. It offers grants to cover a variety of expenses, including interior renovations for businesses.

What are the general requirements?

  1. It applies to self-employed persons and companies with a maximum annual turnover of €750 million.
  2. Businesses must prove that they experienced a Corona-related drop in turnover of at least 30% in at least one month during the period from November 2020 to June 2021 (compared to the reference month in 2019).
  3. Holidays flat rentals are included if the activity is carried out on a commercial basis.

Where do I apply?

The application can be submitted via a tax advisor, an auditor, a lawyer or a certified accountant by August 31, 2021. More info here: https://www.ueberbrueckungshilfe-unternehmen.de/UBH/Redaktion/DE/Artikel/ueberbrueckungshilfe-iii.html 

Does it cover wallpaper?

Yes, as long as the wallpapers in question have a “washable” classification (i.e. non-woven or vinyl-coated models) which means they are categorised as part of hygiene measures. They can then be classified as "Expenditure on necessary maintenance of fixed assets". It is not a prerequisite that the work be carried out by a company. However, only the purchase of materials is eligible and not the (own) personnel costs incurred.


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  Italy

Putting to work a massive structure fund granted to the country by the EU, Italy offers some very attractive incentives for both businesses and homeowners who want to renovate their premises.

Which programs are available?

A - Recovery fund renovations and refurbishment bonus

Also known as “superbonus”, the programme offers a grant of up to 110% for renovation work undertaken both in private homes and in businesses such as hotels and hospitality. The grant is paid as a tax credit. 

What are the general requirements?
  1. Applicable for renovation work carried out from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2022.
  2. Work must include thermal insulation, replacement of winter air conditioning systems and reduction of seismic risk in condominiums or individual homes.
  3. Tax credit is applied in instalments over 4/5 years, depending on when the work was carried out.
  4. Tax credit can be sold. Banks act as brokerage agents in these transactions.
How do I apply?

Application must be organised via a certified tax consultant. For more information: https://www.agenziaentrate.gov.it/portale/superbonus-110%25 

Does it cover wallpaper?

Yes. As long as it is part of a larger improvement project, it is possible to add wallpaper costs to the general renovation of walls. Wallpaper must be purchased and charged as part of the whole project.

B - Italian government-funded renovation and refurbishment bonus

This government-funded renovation bonus covers 50% of the total expenses. It works in a similar fashion to the Recovery Funds bonus above, but with a wider scope. 

What are the general requirements?
  1. Renovation work must cover ordinary maintenance, extraordinary maintenance, restoration and conservation, building renovation, carried out on all the common areas of residential buildings or on individual residential building units with the aim of improving energy efficiency.
  2. Expenses for interior design and other related professional services qualify as part of a larger renovation project.
  3. A 50% tax deduction for taxpayers carrying out ordinary and extraordinary maintenance work in condominiums or individual buildings.
  4. Bonus is paid out as a tax credit and is divided into annual instalments spread over ten years. As above, credit can be sold. Banks act as brokerage agents in these transactions.
  5. It covers expenses up to a maximum of € 96,000.
Where do I apply?

Application must be organised via a certified tax consultant. For more information: https://www.agenziaentrate.gov.it/portale/schede/agevolazioni/detrristredil36/schinfodetrristredil36

Does it cover wallpaper?

Yes. As long as it is part of a larger renovation project that involves the affected walls.


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  Spain

Unlike other Western economies, the central government provides fewer renovation-focused rescue packages. However, a number of measures can be found, drawing from funds the EU released to the country.

Which programs are available to small businesses?

The “Plan de Refuerzo para la hostelería, el turismo y el comercio”, launched at the end of last year by the federal government, aims to help small retailers and hospitality entrepreneurs to increase their liquidity by incentivising rent reductions, offering tax deferrals, improving access to financing and delaying Social Security contributions.

What are the general requirements?

  1. It offers low interest, state-guaranteed loans as a recovery incentive to small businesses.
  2. Loans must not exceed 1.5 million Euro.
  3. It also guarantees tax and rent reductions to small hospitality businesses affected by the pandemic.

Where do I apply?

Application must be organised via a certified tax consultant. For more information: 
https://www.profesionalhoreca.com/2020/12/22/presentado-el-plan-de-refuerzo-a-la-hosteleria-y-turismo-insuficiente-para-el-sector/

Does it cover wallpaper?

Although wallpaper and interior renovations are not explicitly mentioned, the loans and financial measures directly target the recovery of the hospitality industry, including measures to attract back patrons via the upgrading of their interiors.

Regional plans

There are further plans to support the hospitality sector at a regional level. For example, Galicia approved a plan that comprises grants and secured loans and includes investment in the form of financial aid aimed at improving Galician tourist accommodation and restaurants: https://www.hosteltur.com/141143_galicia-destinara-36-m-a-un-plan-de-choque-para-el-turismo-en-2021.html

Where do I apply?

Please check your regional authority website for more information.

Which programs are available to homeowners?

The Spanish “Plan de rehabilitación y regeneración urbana” is financial aid funded by the EU for individuals living in Spain whose properties are in need of essential home improvements.

What are the general requirements?

  1. Open to all Spanish residents.
  2. Applies to homeowners but also renters.
  3. Once granted, project needs to be completed within 12 months.
  4. Grants cover energy efficiency improvement, conservation, safety, and urban and rural renovation work.
  5. Worth up to €12.000 for a house or €8.000 for a flat, up to a maximum of 40% of the total cost.
  6. Some municipalities offer extra aid for below 35-year-olds and for applicants with very low income (up to 75% of the cost).

Where do I apply?

Funds are allocated via each regional authority. For more information: 
https://www.mitma.gob.es/arquitectura-vivienda-y-suelo/programas-de-ayudas-a-la-vivienda/

Does it cover wallpaper?

Yes. As long as it is part of a larger improvement project, it is possible to add wallpaper costs to the general renovation of walls.


  Portugal

The government of Portugal has launched some COVID-related initiatives to support small hospitality businesses. However, most of those are about to expire (or have already expired). It is unclear whether they will be extended. For more information: https://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases1/20214/291656_2237040_28_2.pdf

Which programs are available to homeowners?

The “Casa Eficiente” plan is a government program aimed at individuals who are planning to invest in improving the energy efficiency of their property.

What are the general requirements?

  1. It is only targeting private properties.
  2. It takes the form of non-refundable grants.
  3. Private owners of properties built before the end of 2006 can ask for a refund of up to 70% of their expenses related to energy optimisation.
  4. Refunds are limited to €15.000 per owner and €7.500 per building or unit. 

Where do I apply?

On the government portal:
https://casaeficiente2020.pt/

Does it cover wallpaper?

As long as it is part of a larger improvement project, it is possible to add wallpaper costs to the general renovation of walls.


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  France

A large home renovation plan has been launched by the French government. Called “MaPrimeRénov”, it aims to improve the country’s housing stock by making it more ecologically sustainable.

What are the general requirements?

  1. Open to all French residents filing taxes in France.
  2. Each household can claim up to €20.000, depending on a number of parameters.
  3. Previously reserved for low-income households, the scheme is now available to everyone, including landlords renting out their property and owners of second homes.
  4. The property needs to be at least 2 years old.

Where do I apply?

You need to create an account on: https://www.maprimerenov.gouv.fr/

For more information:
https://www.economie.gouv.fr/particuliers/prime-renovation-energetique

A comprehensive guide to the plan is also available here:
https://www.economie.gouv.fr/files/2021-01/GuidemaprimerenovJanvier2021.pdf

Does it cover wallpaper?

Only as part of an energy improvement plan that requires renovating the interior walls.


  United Kingdom

The only support still available to support small businesses is the “Recovery Loan Scheme” whose aim is to help businesses of any size access loans and other kinds of financial support so they can recover after the pandemic. 

What are the general requirements?

  1. Scheme is open to all businesses trading in the UK.
  2. Businesses needs to prove that they be would viable were it not for the pandemic, and that they have been adversely impacted by it.
  3. Loans up to GBP 10 million.
  4. Expiry date is 31.12.2021.

Where do I apply?

Loans are offered via participating banks:
https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/recovery-loan-scheme/current-accredited-lenders/

For more information:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/recovery-loan-scheme

Does it cover wallpaper?

Yes, there are no specific strings attached to the loan, so it can be used for interior renovation purposes.


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  United States of America

The United States has been one of the most proactive countries in offering financial support for homeowners and small businesses who need help in renovating their properties. 

Which programs are available to small businesses?

Biden’s America Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11th offers the following plans:

A - Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RFF)

Despite the name, the program is targeted at smaller, private food service businesses, including bars and saloons, taverns, inns, lounges, brewpubs, or other similar places of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink. This fund provides grants up to USD 5 Million to cover pandemic-related revenue loss of the business. Funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including renovations to keep the business afloat.

Where do I apply?

Through the following governmental page:
https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund

B - State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)

A new federal fund for states to provide low-interest loans and other investments to help their small business economies recover.

Where do I apply?

Through your state of residence. More info here:
https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/small-business-programs/state-small-business-credit-initiative-ssbci 

Which programs are available to homeowners?

A - Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loans

Designed to fund remodelling if the house purchased needs renovation, they cover these costs when normal mortgages would not. To help buyers avoid a second loan at high costs, through FHA rehab loan programs, the government insures the loan, wrapping the purchase and remodel amounts into one package and insuring it all for the lender.

Where do I apply?

Eligibility requirements are very broad, from minor changes up to a home that will be razed and completely rebuilt. For more information:
https://www.hud.gov/topics/home_improvements

B - Housing Initiative Programs (HIP)

Low or no-interest loans subsidised by counties or other local governments. These are designed to help people remodel their homes.

Where do I apply?

HIPs are not available everywhere. The best way is to contact the local county tax assessor. It might be necessary to go via a private lender to obtain a HELOC (Home Equity Loan) subsidised by the relevant county.

C - Temporary tax exemptions

These programs allow for total or partial exemptions from local property taxes when remodelling the home. Eligibility varies by county or town, but typically any owner of a property can qualify. The property usually must be owner-occupied (but not always). 

Where do I apply?

These programs are allocated by tax assessors in counties or towns. For more information:
https://www.usa.gov/repairing-home

The three programs above share similar characteristics:

  1. Homeowner must apply before doing the work. Incentives are not available for past renovations.
  2. Programs primarily support basic improvements that increase the property value; they do not apply to luxuries or amenities such as spas or outdoor kitchens.
  3. At least one inspection is required before work can commence to make sure that the project exists and that it is proceeding according to plans.

Can they be used for wallpaper?

Yes, in most cases, these costs can be included as part of the renovations.