I propose to take Questions Nos. 301 and 302 together.
One of the earliest priorities for Minister O'Brien and I was to secure exchequer funding to support a waiver of commercial rates for businesses impacted by the pandemic, while simultaneously supporting local authorities.
€900m was allocated by Government to fund the cost of a rates waiver from 27 March to 27 December 2020. This meant that for eligible businesses their commercial rates were funded by Government for nine months of 2020. This was an unprecedented measure, which offered support to businesses and financial certainty to local authorities.
The waiver applied to the majority of ratepayers, with a small number of categories excluded, such as utilities, banks, large supermarkets and corporates, whose businesses had not generally been as severely impacted by the pandemic. However, in acknowledgement that some ratepayers in the excluded categories may have closed during the initial period of the public health restrictions or were otherwise adversely affected, ratepayers in these categories may also have been eligible, if they could demonstrate that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their business. Ratepayers were advised to engage with directly their local authority in this regard.
Payments to the local authorities in respect of the 2020 waiver were completed in early 2021. A total of approximately €730m was distributed among the 31 local authorities.
Cavan County Council received a total of €5,968,334.74 for approximately 1689 accounts, with 4 valid appeals.
Monaghan County Council received a total of €6,137,861.96 for approximately 2040 accounts, with 5 valid appeals.
In order to continue supporting businesses and other ratepayers, and in recognition of the ongoing impacts of COVID 19 and the associated public health restrictions, the Government recently announced that a more targeted commercial rates waiver will be applied in the first quarter of 2021 to businesses most seriously affected by ongoing restrictions. €160 million has been allocated to meet the cost of this waiver and details were issued to local authorities on 27 January 2021. Automatic eligibility is extended to retail, hospitality including hotels, pubs and restaurants, leisure and entertainment, personal services such as hairdressers and barbers, health services and various other categories. Businesses in other sectors may engage directly with their local authorities if they can demonstrate serious financial impact and may also qualify for this waiver.