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Travel Trade Sector

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 8 September 2020

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Questions (261, 262, 264, 269)

Joan Collins


261. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will meet with an association (details supplied) to resolve an issue about the temporary wage subsidy scheme. [21525/20]

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Fergus O'Dowd


262. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to concerns (details supplied) about the future of travel companies here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21547/20]

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Niamh Smyth


264. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance the supports available to travel agents and particularly staff working in the sector (details supplied); his plans to support the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21552/20]

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Willie O'Dea


269. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Finance if he has been contacted by an association (details supplied) regarding the impact which Covid-19 has had on its business; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it has requested that the temporary wage subsidy scheme be retained at the rate of €350 per week for its employees; if he will consider special arrangements for the business in view of the fact that Covid-19 has impacted more severely on the business than on most other businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21817/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 261, 262, 264 and 269 together.

Many of the strictest public health restrictions on the economy have been eased so it is appropriate that the level of State subsidy be moderated, while also recognising that economic outputs are unlikely to return to normal for many businesses for much of the rest of 2020 because of the continued need to observe some requirements such as social distancing.

Looking forward, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is an economy-wide scheme that will focus primarily on business eligibility, delivering a flat rate subsidy based on the number of qualifying employees. This change from the Temporary wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) will allow employers to rely on the continuation of support over a longer period of 8 months while also ensuring such support is sustainable and affordable.

The main subsidy level of €203 per paid worker per week granted under the EWSS is commensurate with the average payment per worker under the TWSS which has been reducing since the start of June. Since 14 August, the figure was €283 across all recipients and €219 in the case of first-time recipients.

In addition to the direct support, it is important to note that a 0.5% rate of employers PRSI will continue to apply for employments that are eligible for the subsidy. This represents a considerable saving for the employer in addition to the flat rate subsidy.

I am aware of the concerns that have been raised regarding the pace of recovery for particular sectors of the economy such as the retail Travel Agency sector, and that it has been suggested that the level of support be increased and/or that the application of some of the new State supports should be delineated on the basis of explicit sectorial qualification criteria.

However, the reality of COVID-19 is that our whole economy and labour market have been rapidly transformed by this unprecedented shock and nearly all sectors have been negatively impacted either directly or indirectly.

The objective of the EWSS is to support employment and maintain the link between the employer and employee insofar as is possible and the scheme has been deliberately designed as an economy wide measure, open to all sectors. The primary qualifying criteria for the EWSS is the “turnover test” where the employer must be able to demonstrate that they are operating at no more than 70% from July to December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. Such a test can be applied to the whole economy, but at the same time focus on employers that are most in need of support.

In addition to the EWSS, attention is also drawn to the various other Government supports that were announced in the July Stimulus Package such as the Re-Start Grants and Credit Guarantee scheme which may also apply to the sector highlighted by the Deputies.