Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (134, 135, 139, 160)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

134. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if the terms of the Covid restrictions support scheme can be amended to take into consideration seasonal companies such as a company (details supplied). [2255/21]

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Cathal Crowe

Question:

135. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to an anomaly with the Covid restrictions support scheme whereby seasonal business owners with fluctuating incomes are losing out due to the requirement to compare the same week in two consecutive years with each other; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2256/21]

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Joe O'Brien

Question:

139. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance his plans to provide supports to supplier businesses that are ineligible to avail of the Covid restrictions support scheme but are typically reliant on other businesses that are now closed for custom, for example dry cleaners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2322/21]

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Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

160. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will extend eligibility of the Covid restrictions support scheme to camping and caravan parks given the severe impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on this sector; if he will reconsider the current classification of camping and caravan parks as an outdoor activity given that they are registered and approved accommodation providers that operate from fixed business premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2812/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134, 135, 139 and 160 together.

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Details of the scheme are set out in Finance Act 2020 and detailed guidelines on the operation of the scheme are available on the Revenue website at:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf .

To be eligible to make a claim under CRSS, a business must, under the specific terms of the public health regulations, be required to either prohibit, or significantly restrict, customers from accessing its business premises to purchase goods or services, with the result that, during the period of restrictions, turnover does not exceed an amount based on 25% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (or in 2020 in the case of a new business). Where all the eligibility criteria are met, a business will be able to claim support under the scheme based on a percentage of the average weekly turnover in 2019 (or in 2020 in the case of a new business). The support assists eligible businesses in meeting the costs associated with their business premises at a time when, because of the specific terms of the restrictions, they cannot, for a period of time, provide goods or services to their customers or can only do so to a limited extent. For the purposes of CRSS, a qualifying “business premises” is a building or other similar fixed physical structure in which a business activity is ordinarily carried on.

Where a business does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises, such as a camping or caravan site or a boat charter business, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria for CRSS.

It is not sufficient that the trade of a business has been impacted because of a reduction in customer demand as a consequence of Covid-19 such as a dry cleaning business. The scheme only applies where, as a direct result of the specific terms of the Government restrictions, the business is required to either prohibit or restrict access to its business premises.

For seasonal business, as with all other businesses, it is the average weekly turnover in 2019 (or in 2020 in certain cases) that must be considered for the purpose of determining whether the reduction in turnover requirement is met. Similarly, as for all businesses, it is the average weekly turnover of a seasonal business in 2019 (or 2020 in certain cases) which will determine the amount of support available to the business under the scheme where it meets the eligibility criteria.

One of the eligibility requirements for CRSS is that a business would carry on its trading activities during the period of restrictions but for the public health regulations requiring the business to prohibit or significantly restrict customers from accessing its business premises. Any reduction in turnover of the business during the period of restrictions must relate to those restrictions. Where a seasonal business would not ordinarily operate during a period of restrictions, for example it operates during summer months only and the restrictions occur in winter months, it will not be able to demonstrate that any reduction in turnover during the period of restrictions relates to the public health restrictions or that it would have operated but for those restrictions. Therefore, the business would not be eligible to claim under CRSS.

There may be circumstances, however, where a seasonal business intended to trade outside of its historical trading patterns in order to compensate for reduced trade during its normal season. If a seasonal business can demonstrate to Revenue, from bookings that had to be cancelled for example, that it intended to trade during a period for which public health restrictions apply, and it meets all of the eligibility criteria, it will be eligible to claim under CRSS.

Businesses who do not qualify under this scheme may be entitled to support under various measures put in place by Government, including existing supports available under the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the range of measures announced as part of Budget 2021 to support particular sectors including Tourism and live entertainment. They may also be eligible to warehouse VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts and also excess payments received by employers under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the balance of Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020 for self-assessed taxpayers if applicable.

The Government will continue to assess the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and I will continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate these effects.