Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (66)

Niall Collins


66. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance his views on matters raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7526/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As I am sure the Deputy is aware, to date, additional expenditure of well over €13 billion has been paid out with more planned still in 2021 to sustain businesses and help people to manage financially in the midst of these very difficult times.

Sums of over €1 billion have been approved for over 50,000 businesses under the range of measures that the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has put in place to support businesses through loan and loan guarantees schemes, grant schemes and specific business training and advisory services. Supports are also available to assist businesses in moving online, in adapting to changed circumstances and also when they are restarting as restrictions are lifted.

The Revenue Commissioners have also assisted businesses through the debt warehousing schemes with 70,000 businesses putting tax liabilities of almost €2 billion into the schemes. As of 4 February 2021, 66,500 claims for payments of €266.9 million in respect of 20,800 premises have been made under the COVID Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS).

Nearly €6 billion has been spent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (the PUP) to support workers and their families with nearly half a million people receiving a payment last month.

In addition to the above, the wage subsidy schemes have been a central pillar of the Government’s response to the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic, supporting viable firms and encouraging employment and to that end is an important bridge between social welfare payments like the PUP and regular employment which is the ultimate goal.

The objective of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is to support all employment and maintain the link between the employer and employee insofar as is possible. To date, subsidy payments of almost €2 billion have been made and PRSI relief worth over €300m granted to over 46,000 employers in respect of over 515,000 employees.

I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS. It is noted that the legislation implementing the measure provides that it will be in place until 31 March 2021, but also provides that the scheme may be extended until the end of June 2021, should it be required.

It is likely that continued support will be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable businesses and employment and to provide businesses with certainty to the maximum extent possible. Decisions on the form of such support will take account of emerging circumstances and economic conditions as they become clearer.

In the meantime I am satisfied that the design of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) fully takes account of the changing environment around living with the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19.

I will conclude by confirming that the Government remains fully committed to supporting businesses and employers insofar as is possible at this time.