Businesses in Mallorca have been crying out for direct aid. | Pilar Pellicer

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Funcas, the Savings Banks Foundation in Spain, has conducted an analysis of direct aid to business in Spain, France, Germany and Italy. The comparison shows that Spain lags behind the other three and - certainly in the cases of France and Germany - by some considerable margin. The comparative figures are: Spain 7,000 million euros; Italy 11,000 million; France 20,400 million; Germany 50,000 million.

The Spanish government's aid package that was announced on March 12 is worth 11,000 million euros in total. However, only 7,000 million is in the form of direct aid. The remainder is for modification of the ICO loan scheme and for a special recapitalisation fund for small businesses and the self-employed.

Raymond Torres, the Funcas director of international analysis, points out that Spain's package and the rules governing it "have arrived several months later than in the other three countries". The coverage, he adds, is relatively low, "as it applies only to sectors most affected by the pandemic". More positively, Torres notes that the percentage of losses to be compensated is similar to that in the other three countries, while a minimum of 4,000 euros "will tend to favour small businesses".

There are differences in how the aid is applied. France's policy has been to compensate from the "first lost euro", while the other three countries have set a threshold of 30% lost turnover compared with 2019. Other differences lie with the speed with which aid has been made available and the business sectors that are covered.

In France and Germany, the aid first began to be granted last autumn. In principle it is available to all sectors. In Italy the aid is for all sectors. This isn't the case in Spain, where 95 activities have been specified within the most affected sectors of hospitality, leisure and retail. Apart from the aid not being as widespread, there are what appear to be some anomalies. For example, hairdressers and souvenir shops are not included.

Funcas notes that Germany has the most generous ceiling for aid - 1.5 million euros. This is calculated on fixed costs. In the other countries, assessment is made according to loss of turnover. In Spain this means that between 20 and 40 per cent of lost income is to be compensated. In Italy the range is 20 to 60 per cent; France up to 100% in the case of small businesses. Germany's compensation is up to 90%.

So, although Torres points to the compensation percentage for losses being similar, in maximum terms it is lower.