I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 65 together.
The purpose of the Stay and Spend scheme is to provide targeted support to businesses within the hospitality sector whose operations are likely to be most affected by continued restrictions on public health grounds.
In relation to take-aways, food and drink service providers that operate on a take-away basis are not likely to be as heavily affected by the current restrictions as service providers offering ‘dine-in’ food and drink services and so do not fall within the particular objectives of the scheme.
The Stay and Spend scheme was developed at a time when there appeared to be a steady downward trend in infection rates, and there was an expectation that the re-opening of the economy could be sustained uninterrupted. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and, thus far, with the exception of some short periods, public health restrictions have had the effect of impeding the operation of the incentive as originally envisaged. Stay and Spend is scheduled to operate until 30 April but the flexibility exists for me to extend its operation in 2021 beyond that date (to end 2021). It is too early as yet to take definitive decisions in that regard. Much will depend on how circumstances unfold in the months ahead. As I have said before, I will keep an eye on how matters develop and the role that the scheme might play and consider if any changes need to be made.
Finally, it is important also to recall that Stay and Spend should not be viewed in isolation from the other measures put in place to support businesses generally and the hospitality sector in particular.
In recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing the Hospitality and Tourism sector, the VAT rate was reduced from 13.5% to 9 % from 1 November 2020. This is a temporary measure to provide support to the sector, where many businesses remain closed for now and those that are open are operating at significantly reduced capacity, and will apply from 1 November 2020 to 31 December 2021.
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been a key component of the Government’s response to the continued COVID-19 crisis to support viable firms and encourage employment in the hospitality and tourism sector and beyond. I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS.
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. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with COVID-19 Plan.
Businesses may also be eligible under the Debt Warehousing Scheme to ‘park’ certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities, excess payments received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), outstanding balances of self-assessed Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020.