Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (58, 59, 71, 72, 74)

Bríd Smith

Question:

58. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that businesses such as marketing agencies that operate in settings such as colleges and universities are currently not eligible for support under the Covid restrictions support scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that although these companies' premises are not technically closed to the public, the locations in which they operate are significantly affected by Covid-19 restrictions, which has resulted in a substantial decline in revenue turnover; if the impact on these businesses will be examined with a view to extending the scheme to them to sustain them until students return to campus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7578/21]

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Jackie Cahill

Question:

59. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to including travel counsellors as those who qualify for access to the Covid restrictions support scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7641/21]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

71. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if financial supports will be provided to travel agents (details supplied) that are not eligible for the Covid restrictions support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7658/21]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

72. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if further financial supports will be provided to businesses that were supplying businesses in the hospitality sector that are closed and are unable to qualify for the Covid restrictions support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7663/21]

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Joe Flaherty

Question:

74. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine supports for the coach and transport sector (details supplied). [7690/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 59, 71, 72 and 74 together.

The 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.

Details of CRSS are set out in Finance Act 2020 and detailed operational guidelines, which are based on the terms and conditions of the scheme as set out in the legislation, have been published on the Revenue website at https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf.

To qualify under the scheme a business must, under specific terms of the Covid restrictions, be required to either prohibit or significantly restrict, customers from accessing their business premises to acquire goods or services, with the result that the business either has to temporarily close or to operate at a significantly reduced level. 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.

A self-employed travel agent providing services from a home office, which is not customer-facing, will not meet the eligibility criteria.

Where a business does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises such as a coach operator, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria for CRSS. A fund of €10 million (Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme) was put in place by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to support the coach tourism sector.

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 college marketing businesses. 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 significantly restrict access to its business premises.

Where a business supplies goods or services to businesses in the hospitality industry which, under the specific terms of the Covid restrictions, are required to prohibit or significantly restrict customers from accessing their business premises, it will not result in the supplier business being eligible to make a claim under CRSS. Each business must meet the qualification criteria in their own right.

I have no plans to change the eligibility criteria for the CRSS. The CRSS is just one of the Government’s supports to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses who are not eligible for CRSS may be entitled to alternative supports put in place by the Government, including the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. 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.

I continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. In this regard, Deputies may wish to note that earlier this week, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment announced a new €60m COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), which is being developed to assist businesses who are ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes.