Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (33)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

33. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the guidelines or supports in place to provide rental assistance for small businesses that are closed due to the Covid-19 emergency restrictions and that cannot pay their rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7129/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

These are difficult times and many companies have had to temporarily close their businesses and / or premise(s), curtail their activities or make alternative work arrangements due to COVID-19 restrictions. I am aware that some businesses are concerned that some landlords are continuing to insist on the payment of rents and leases as normal despite their premises being closed.

The issue of commercial rents is primarily a contractual matter for the parties involved. However, the Government has urged landlords and tenants to talk to one another and come to some arrangement, as it is in everybody’s interest that terms are amicably agreed. With this in mind, on 1st October 2020, I published the Code of Conduct between landlords and tenants for commercial rents. The aim of the voluntary Code is to facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19. It sets out a structured approach for engagement between both commercial landlords and tenants, based on their mutual interest in continuing to work together.

However, this Code should not be seen in isolation. To date, over €24 billion had been made available in financial support for businesses, including the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme, wage subsidies, a commercial rates holiday, low-cost loans, and a VAT reduction. The Code of Conduct and the full list of supports is available on my Department’s website.

The Government is committed to ensuring as many businesses as possible survive this challenging period, and it will continue to look at how we can help businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.