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Wednesday, 24 Feb 2021

Written Answers Nos. 9-28

Health and Safety Inspections

Questions (9)

John Lahart

Question:

9. Deputy John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of inspections of business and commercial premises that have been undertaken by the Health and Safety Authority since September 2020; the outcome of same; if penalties were imposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9400/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Between the 1st September 2020 to the 12th Feb 2021 the Health and Safety Authority carried out three thousand, eight hundred and nine (3,809) workplace inspections across a wide range of sectors.

During this period, in additional to carrying out inspections assessing compliance with Health and Safety legislation, the Health and Safety Authority was involved in a number of roles around the management of COVID-19 in workplaces which included the training of, and supporting, other inspectorates to carry-out Protocol related inspections and, also as a member of Outbreak Control Teams , in support of public health, at various meat plants.

The table below details the levels of enforcement issued arising from the inspections.

Workplace Inspections

Written Advice Given

Improvement Notice Issued

Prohibition Notice Issued

Fixed payment Notice* Issued

3089

2327

56

79

10

Note*- Fixed payment notices are issued for non-compliances under ADR (European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) Regulations.

Redundancy Payments

Questions (10)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

10. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person cannot apply for redundancy after a year has passed since he or she lost his or her job; if so, the advice for a person whose company has not been operating since March 2020 and has been on a Covid-19 payment since then (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10551/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

In situations where a person has permanently lost their job there are 52 weeks from the date of dismissal or date of termination of employment for a redundancy payment to be agreed on and paid, or for the employee to give a written claim for redundancy to the employer or for a referral to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The WRC has discretion to extend the 52 week time limit to 104 weeks in certain circumstances.

In a layoff situation a person has not permanently lost their job, the layoff is not a dismissal or a termination of employment and therefore the 52 week time limit does not apply.

There are separate provisions in relation to the right of an employee to claim redundancy following certain periods of layoff and short time work. These provisions are currently suspended by Section 12A of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 in respect of layoff and short-time work situations which have arisen due to Covid-19. This was done in order to help maintain the employee/employer relationship during the Covid closures, to help ensure businesses survive and that permanent job losses and insolvency situations are avoided as much as possible.

Those employees on layoff due to Covid are paid an enhanced unemployment benefit - the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Employees who have been placed on short-time work may qualify for short-time work support from the Department of Social Protection. Short-Time Work Support is a form of Jobseeker's Benefit and is an income support payment for people who have been temporarily placed on a shorter working week by their employer. The payment is made in respect of the days of work that have been lost.

Finally, the Customer Service section of the Workplace Relations Commission operate a telephone helpline at 1890 808090 and one of their functions is to assist employees in relation to their concerns or complaints regarding their employment rights.

Departmental Offices

Questions (11)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

11. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the facilities available in his Department to facilitate breastfeeding breaks in accordance with WHO guidelines of two years for women in the workplace and as part of the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9369/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Accommodation for my Department and its Offices is provided by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in buildings which are either State owned or leased by the OPW on our behalf. The Department and its Offices are located in 11 locations across the country, six of which are in Dublin and five regionally. Typically, the Department and its Offices are in shared accommodation, either with other Government Departments, public bodies or the private sector. The Department works closely with OPW colleagues to ensure the provision of appropriate, fit-for-purpose accommodation for our staff.

In line with Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 and Part 9 of Department of Finance Circular 2006/31, staff may avail of breastfeeding breaks or paid reduction in their working hours from 26 to 104 weeks for children up to the age of two years.

In adherence to Regulations of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, 2007 my Department provides Rest Rooms in all 11 (100%), of its locations which, while not solely dedicated spaces for breastfeeding and expressing of breast milk, may be used by staff for these purposes during working hours.

Also in respect of the Offices of my Department, in locations where they may be tenants of a managed service company or in a building managed by a major tenant, they have identified private rooms that can be used by staff for the purpose of breastfeeding and expressing breast milk. All Offices are satisfied that they are in a position to make suitable facilities available to staff for this purpose whenever such a need arises.

These various arrangements across my Department and its Offices assist in supporting mothers in employment and in enhancing female labour market participation which is one of the core objectives of the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (12)

Michael Ring

Question:

12. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he plans to introduce additional financial supports for the proprietors of wet pubs whose businesses have been closed for a protracted period of time in view of the extreme financial hardship that this is causing for these proprietors and their families. [9506/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am keenly aware that publicans are continuing to make massive sacrifices to protect their communities. In order to assist businesses to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates. Full details are available here at: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

Budget 2021 overall provides a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build resilience and help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the Credit Guarantee Scheme. Changes were made to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the EWSS, increasing the top rate to €350 for those who were earning in excess of €400 per week. The EWSS is now extended by Government to end of June 2021, as is the rates waiver which will be of benefit to wet pubs.

My colleague, Minister Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Social Protection announced the doubling of the PUP threshold to €960 over an eight-week period. This will help people to restart their businesses when it is safe to do so and allow self-employed people to take on intermittent jobs. The PUP is now extended by Government to end of June 2021.

We have introduced a reduction in the 13.5% VAT rate to 9% until the end of 2021 which will benefit the hospitality sector, together with a range of additional public capital investment measures to support the domestic economy.

The Revenue Commissioners' COVID Restrictions Support Scheme offers a temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels by up to €5,000 per week. Th Government has extended the CRSS to end June which will be of continued direct benefit to wet pubs.

On 9th February last, I announced a new €60m Scheme, called the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) that is being developed to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and to help with fixed costs. Wholesalers, suppliers, caterers and events companies down 75% or more in turnover will benefit, including those that commenced at the end of 2019 may be eligible.

We are committed to helping businesses respond to the economic challenges arising from the pandemic with a particular focus on firms that do not qualify for the weekly CRSS grant from the Revenue Commissioners or existing sectoral schemes in areas such as the arts, transport and tourism.

This new CBAS will help some businesses that are not eligible for existing grants, largely due to the fact that the premises they operate from have not been closed to the public. We estimate that this will help approximately 7,500 businesses. While the grant is modest it will be of substantial assistance to smaller businesses with some of their fixed costs like rent, utilities and security.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to identify practical actions and to regularly review supports available to assist businesses.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (13)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

13. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if travel agents are eligible for the new Covid-19 business aid scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9520/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am acutely aware of the difficulties all travel agents have faced this past year and are continuing to face. With business difficulties in mind, the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

On 9th February, I announced a new €60m Scheme, called the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), that is being developed to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and is designed to help with fixed costs. Wholesalers, suppliers, caterers and events companies down 75% or more in turnover who are in receipts of a rates bill can benefit. It is anticipated that travel agents will be eligible to apply for this scheme.

We are committed to helping businesses respond to the economic challenges arising from the pandemic with a particular focus on firms that do not qualify for the weekly CRSS grant from the Revenue Commissioners or existing sectoral schemes in areas such as the arts, transport and tourism.

While the grant is modest it will be of substantial assistance to smaller businesses with some of their fixed costs like rent, utilities and security.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (14)

Gerald Nash

Question:

14. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that an economic sector (details supplied) is currently excluded from the benefits of the Covid-19 business supports scheme under the aegis of his Department including the new CBAS initiative; if he will amend the terms of the new scheme to include this sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9536/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am acutely aware of the difficulties that the necessary ongoing Covid-19 restrictions are putting on businesses right across the country. With this in mind the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

As you are aware, on 9th February, I announced a new €60m Scheme, called the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), that is being developed to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes and is designed to help with fixed costs.

Businesses will be required to be in receipt of a rates bill from their local authority for their business in order to qualify. The intention behind this provision is to assist businesses operating from fixed premises to meet some of the ongoing fixed costs of maintaining those premises. Therefore on-course bookmakers would not be eligible for this scheme.

The Government is very much open to proposals as to how we can help businesses further. However, our schemes are there to help meet fixed costs that cannot be avoided and to provide basic weekly income support up to maximum of €350 per week. We are not providing compensation for loss of personal income above this level or compensation for loss of profits for any sector.

Ministerial Advisers

Questions (15)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

15. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the names and contact details for each special adviser requested for appointment by him in tabular form. [9594/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

The names and contact details of special advisers in my Department are set out in the table below.

Name

Contact Details

Sarah O'Neill

sarah.oneill@tanaiste.gov.ie

Matt Lynch

matt.lynch@tanaiste.gov.ie

Stephen Foley (adviser to Minister Damien English)

stephen.foley@enterprise.gov.ie

EU Issues

Questions (16)

Gerald Nash

Question:

16. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 37 of 10 February 2021, if Ireland will support the PCBCR proposal if it is tabled and discussed at COMPET later in February 2021; his views on whether the current opposition to the proposal is consistent with Government policy to ensure developing countries benefit from greater transparency in the reporting of multinational corporations as detailed in the international tax strategy (details supplied) in the absence of the required majority at Council level to change the legal basis of the public country by country reporting file and given that the relevant tax officials can provide input at any council configuration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9650/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Ireland supports transparency and good governance including “Country by Country” (CbC) reporting by MNEs to national tax authorities. As advised in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 37 of 10 February 2021, the Finance Act 2015 introduced obligations for relevant companies to report to the Revenue Commissioners.

The next COMPET Council meeting will be an Informal Video Conference on 25 February 2021 where the Proposal for Public Country by Country Reporting will be for Policy Debate.

Ireland’s opposition to this file proceeding in COMPET Council is a principled position shared by a number of other Member States reflecting the advice of the Council Legal Service (CLS) that the legal basis for this Proposal should be Taxation (Article 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), and therefore, should be considered by ECOFIN Council. This measure should have the benefit of tax expertise to ensure that it is consistent with existing reporting requirements and, importantly, with the international cooperation and exchange of information arrangements, which are based on confidentiality. Tax experts are best placed to ensure that international efforts to collect income tax from multinational corporations will not be undermined by new measures.

As I stated in my reply of 10 February last, Dáil Éireann adopted a Reasoned Opinion in June 2016 which also shares this view that the proposed Directive is a tax matter and does not meet the principle of subsidiarity. The Reasoned Opinion is available at 2016-06-30_report-on-com-2016-198_en.pdf (oireachtas.ie).

My colleague the Minister for Finance leads on tax policy for Ireland. Ireland has long been a supporter of, and a beneficiary of, tax transparency. Ireland has consistently implemented the necessary measures to ensure we are up to date with international best practices on tax transparency and exchange of information negotiated at the OECD. We have also supported the parallel EU efforts through agreement of the Directive on Administrative Cooperation (DAC) in the field of Taxation, and in December 2020 agreed new provisions for automatic exchange of information in respect of digital platforms. This covers administrative cooperation between EU Member States on tax matters, and automatic exchange of tax rulings, financial account data, and mandatory disclosure of cross-border tax arrangements.

Of the 78 jurisdictions reviewed to date by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (OECD), Ireland is one of only a small number of jurisdictions to have been found to be fully compliant with new international best practice.

The current regime for country by country (CbC) reporting gives tax administrations a global picture of the operations of MNE Groups. Tax authorities may use this information to perform high-level transfer pricing risk assessments and to evaluate other Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) related risks.

The exchange of CbC Reports requires that jurisdictions must have the necessary laws in place to require Reporting Entities to file a CbC Report; infrastructure to ensure the appropriate confidentiality and data safeguards standards as specified in the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters are met; and a qualifying competent authority agreement must be in effect.

A qualifying competent authority agreement is defined in the BEPS Action 13 Final Report as an agreement that is between authorised representatives of those jurisdictions that are party to an International Agreement (i.e., a Double Tax Agreement, Tax Information Exchange Agreement or the Multilateral Convention for Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters) and that requires the automatic exchange of CbC Reports between the party jurisdictions.

In most cases, jurisdictions have signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (“MCAA”) for the exchange of CbC Reports. As at December 2020, 89 jurisdictions (including Ireland) had signed the MCAA and it is open to all jurisdictions to do so. A list of the jurisdictions that have signed up to the MCAA can be found on the OECD website: Activated exchange relationships for Country-by-Country reporting - OECD.

Departmental Staff

Questions (17)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

17. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of staff employed in his Department by gender and by Civil Service salary scale in tabular form. [9659/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to gender and civil service salary scale for staff employed in my Department is provided in tabular form below. This data is as at 12 February 2021.

Grade/Civil Service Pay Scale

FTE

Headcount

Grand Total

879.7164

922

SECRETARY GENERAL

1

1

Female

1

1

Deputy Secretary

2

2

- CHAIRMAN OF THE LABOUR COURT

Male

1

1

- Director General of WRC

Male

1

1

Assistant Secretary

11

11

- ASSISTANT SECRETARY

Female

2

2

Male

5

5

- DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON- LABOUR COURT

Female

2

2

Male

2

2

Principal Officer

67.1

68

- PRINCIPAL OFFICER

Female

31.1

32

Male

28

28

- MEMBER OF LABOUR COURT

Female

4

4

Male

4

4

Assistant Principal

144

146

- ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

Female

62.4

64

Male

71.8

72

-PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT GRADE

Female

2

2

Male

6

6

-SENIOR EXAMINER OF PATENTS

Male

1

1

-SOLICITOR

Female

0.8

1

Higher Executive Officer

127.3119

136

- HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Female

67.7119

76

Male

59.6

60

Administrative Officer

30

30

- ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER

Female

14

14

Male

13

13

-EXAMINER OF PATENTS

Female

2

2

Male

1

1

Executive Officer

206.6966

217

- EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Female

129.7486

140

Male

75.948

76

-ICT APPRENTICE

Male

1

1

Clerical Officer

250.4079

270

- CLERICAL OFFICER

Female

151.005

169

Male

82.4064

84

- CLERICAL OFF TEMPORARY

Female

9

9

Male

5

5

- CIVILIAN DRIVER

Male

3

3

SVO

40.2

41

-HEAD SERVICES OFFICER

1

1

Male

1

1

-SERVICES OFFICER

Female

3

3

Male

19

19

-SERVICES ATTENDANT

Female

3

3

Male

2

2

- SUPERINTENDENT OF CLEANERS

Female

1

1

- CLEANER

Female

11.2

12

Departmental Reviews

Questions (18)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

18. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the current number of live studies, reviews and research undertaken or commissioned by him; and the date by which each study, review and research is scheduled to be completed in tabular form. [9681/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

A list of the studies, reviews and research currently being undertaken in my Department is set out in the table below.

Study/Review/Research being Undertaken

Anticipated Completion Date

Annual Business Survey of Economic Impact 2020

Q1 2021

Annual Employment Survey 2021

Q1 2021

Research project on frustration of contracts

March 2021

Economic and Sustainability Impact Assessment for Ireland of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement

End Q1 2021

Review of the Minimum Annual Remuneration for an Employment Permit

End Q1 2021

Review of Capital Expenditure 2006-2020

1 July 2021

Framework for Evaluation of State-Supported Loan Schemes

1 July 2021

Review of climate appraisal practice within Enterprise Agencies

30 September 2021

Enterprise Ireland

Questions (19)

Sorca Clarke

Question:

19. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the properties and land rented by Enterprise Ireland in 2020 including overseas properties in tabular form; and the yearly rent paid per property. [9766/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Enterprise Ireland has a mix of local and overseas office premises rented. The annual rental costs for 2020 are outlined in the tables below:

Ireland Offices:

Annual Rent €

East Point, Dublin HQ

2,776,686

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

29,520

West Park Shannon, Co Clare Regional HQ

518,461

Kerry Technology Park, Tralee, Co Kerry

17,868

Overseas Offices Europe:

Annual Rent €

Annual Rent €

Manchester, UK

14,867

Copenhagen, Denmark

30,318

London, UK

492,085

Prague, Czech Republic

38,495

Paris, France

352,106

Budapest, Hungary

8,542

Lyon, France

25,851

Warsaw, Poland

59,305

Dusseldorf, Germany

127,053

Moscow, Russia

34,033

Munich, Germany

36,200

Amsterdam, Holland

88,902

Stockholm, Sweden

37,488

Brussels, Belgium

54,996

Madrid, Spain

57,636

Milan, Italy

95,995

Americas:

Annual Rent €

Annual Rent €

New York, USA

781,343

Chicago, USA

83,704

Boston, USA

100,345

Seattle, USA

48,100

San Francisco, USA

114,720

Toronto, Canada

119,981

Austin, USA

69,691

Sao Paulo, Brazil, South America

41,816

Asia/Pacific

Annual Rent €

Annual Rent €

Singapore, Malaysia

74,317

Istanbul, Turkey

42,672

Tokyo, Japan

106,959

Sidney, Australia

98,817

Hong Kong, China

86,932

Melbourne, Australia

36,749

Beijing, China

161,492

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

53,330

Shanghai, China

49,855

Mumbai, India

205,743

Seoul, Sth Korea

76,024

Middle East/Africa

Annual Rent €

500 RIYADH

12,000

504 DUBAI

101,717

509 SOUTH AFRICA

41,695

Grand Total

€7,404,407

IDA Ireland

Questions (20)

Sorca Clarke

Question:

20. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the properties and land rented by IDA Ireland in 2020, including overseas properties in tabular form; and the yearly rent paid per property. [9767/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

The table below sets out the properties rented by IDA Ireland in 2020, and the rents paid by IDA on each property during 2020. IDA Ireland do not currently rent any lands.

Those Offices marked with an asterisk denote offices where the rent is paid by Enterprise Ireland.

Office

Rents paid in 2020

(euro)

Ireland

Global HQ

3,924,097

Athlone

186,644

Cork *

0

Galway *

0

Donegal *

0

Sligo

69,836

Dundalk *

0

Limerick

33,000

Waterford *

0

Cavan

15,452

USA

New York

523,194

Chicago

119,990

Mountview

222,056

Boston

88,236

Irvine County

84,290

Austin

36,675

Atlanta

38,819

Toronto

43,852

Asia

Tokyo

130,092

Shanghai

110,525

Schenzen

45,881

Singapore

32,652

Mumbai & Bangalore

207,214

Beijing

58,910

Seoul

29,249

Sydney

52,151

Europe

Frankfurt

120,091

Paris

146,124

London

244,500

Work Permits

Questions (21)

Alan Dillon

Question:

21. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if consideration is being given to extending the validity of documentation (details supplied); if automatic extensions will be granted as a result of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9797/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

In March 2020, the Employment Permits Section of my Department implemented a COVID-19 contingency plan to ensure that the employment permit regime could continue to operate throughout the crisis. Since 30th March, the employment permit system has been operating fully remotely and online with new applications and renewals continuing to be processed seamlessly.

Operational practices have been adjusted to replace the paper-based elements of the service to allow for a fully online process involving electronic/scanned documents and all decisions/outcomes now issue via e-mail rather than by post. Agreement was reached with the Immigration Service Delivery in the Department of Justice and Equality on arrangements to introduce, on a temporary basis, a type of “e-employment permit” and a similar soft copy process to transition to permanent residence permission.

All employment permits remain valid for the full length of time of the duration stated on the permit thus allowing permit holders to take up employment at any stage during the validity of the permit.

Full details in relation to the contingency arrangements introduced by the Employment Permits Section in response to the pandemic can be accessed on my Department's website through the following link: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/COVID-19-Employment-Permits-System-Contingency-Arrangements.html

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (22)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

22. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports sought and received by a company (details supplied) during Covid-19. [9799/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

My Department has provided a wide range of COVID-19 schemes and the details of these schemes are available on my Department’s website at https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/. I'm not aware of a submission or the details of a specific company but I am very aware of the impact of restrictions on the print and publishing sector. My colleague the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin is best placed to advise further.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (23)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

23. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a person (details supplied) qualifies for funding despite not having a rateable premises. [9803/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am acutely aware of the difficulties facing businesses right across the country due to the continuing but necessary COVID-19 restrictions. With that in mind the Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates.

The business person you refer to may be eligible for the schemes referred to above and should contact their local Intreo Office.

The new CBAS scheme which I announced on 9th February will require businesses to be in a rateable premises. These schemes are designed to help with fixed costs associated with running a business.

I would also remind suggest that the individual contact their Local Enterprise Office to assess the full range of other advisory and funding assistance that may be available. The Local Enterprise Office can guide entrepreneurs through some of the available supports. Of particular interest may be the COVID-19 Business Loans which offer flexible repayment conditions, which are enhanced if the application is processed through the Local Enterprise Office.

Full details of all supports available from this Department can be found at the following link:

Government supports for COVID-19 impacted businesses - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)

As it is an ever changing situation, I want to assure you that I and my colleagues across Government will continue to keep the range of supports under review.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (24)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

24. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when further details on the Covid-19 business aid scheme will be available when the scheme opens for applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9824/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

On 9th February last, I announced a new €60m Scheme, called the COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) that is being developed to provide grants to businesses ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes such as CRSS and is designed to help with fixed costs. Wholesalers, suppliers, caterers and events companies down 75% or more in turnover and in receipt of a rates bill may benefit, including those that commenced after the 1st November 2019 where their turnover is below projections.

I am committed to helping businesses respond to the economic challenges arising from the pandemic with a particular focus on firms that do not qualify for the weekly CRSS grant from the Revenue Commissioners or existing sectoral schemes in areas such as the arts, transport and tourism.

This new CBAS will help some businesses that are not eligible for existing grants, largely due to the fact that the premises they operate from have not been closed to the public. We estimate that this will help approximately 7,500 businesses. While the grant is modest it will be of substantial assistance to smaller businesses with some of their fixed costs like rent, utilities and security.

The details of the Scheme are currently being worked on and I plan to launch the scheme in early March.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (25)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

25. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a matter raised in correspondence by a group (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9879/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am keenly aware that businesses are continuing to make massive sacrifices to protect their communities and I am committed to ensuring that the Government will offer as much assistance as possible. I understand the physical and mental health benefits that gyms can provide but unfortunately, as outlined in the Government plan published yesterday, we must continue at level 5 until the situation improves.

My Department has worked to ensure that appropriate financial supports are in place for businesses that require finance as they develop their response to their exposure to impacts arising from COVID-19. Details of the wide range of COVID-19 schemes are available on my Department’s website at https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

My colleagues Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD., may be able to further assist you in the matter of the safe reopening of the fitness industry and the revised Living with COVID Plan.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (26)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

26. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of the statutory sick pay Bill; the timeline for the publication of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9901/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I am committed to bringing in a statutory sick pay scheme for Ireland and it is my intention that this scheme will be designed in consultation with unions and employer groups. Work is well underway.

I launched a full public consultation on the scheme last November which lasted for 6 weeks and concluded in December 2020. I encouraged employers, employees and unions to engage with this consultation and make their views known. The consultation process saw significant engagement and we received a total of 118 submissions. There is a wide range of views and suggestions from a good mix of stakeholders and all views are being taken into account in developing the scheme. I also continue to engage with the social partners on this matter via the LEEF subgroup on Employment and Enterprise.

We know there are implications, so policy decisions and options have to be worked through properly. We don’t want to jeopardise jobs by placing a burden on business without working through all of the implications and potential solutions.

Some of the issues cut across other government departments, such as taxation issues and illness benefit, so an Interdepartmental Group has been set up to deal with these matters.

The Government is committed to moving through the process and settling issues as quickly as possible and to publish the General Scheme of a Bill at the end of March 2021, with a view to having the Bill enacted as soon as possible after that.

Intellectual Property

Questions (27)

Joan Collins

Question:

27. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if Ireland will put pressure on the EU to support the intellectual property waiver proposal from India and South Africa at the WTO meeting on 23 February 2021 (details supplied). [9913/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Since October 2020, India and South Africa have presented a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce any patents and other intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for the duration of the pandemic. The proposers argue that this would allow countries to scale up the manufacture of such products.

International Trade is a competence of the EU under the Treaties and in exercising that competence, the European Commission engages fully with the Member States through a variety of Committees and Working Parties/Groups, including on Intellectual Property.

The EU’s current position on the proposed waiver is that the WTO international agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) allows countries the flexibility to respond to the concerns raised by India and South Africa. Specifically, the TRIPS agreement allows compulsory licensing which is when a government permits someone else to produce the patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner.

The EU considers that the COVAX Facility, the international initiative to ensure global access to COVID vaccines, is the mechanism that is best placed to ensure that high-income countries finance the vaccines and support the developing countries to secure their share of global supply.

Ireland has consistently championed collaborative responses to the pandemic, with a focus on ensuring that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are served by our collective effort. As a member of the global health community, Ireland continues to play an active role in ensuring fair and equitable access to vaccines for all. This includes supporting the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund, to develop, produce and equitably distribute effective technologies in the COVID-19 global response.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (28)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

28. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the supports announced in Scotland (details supplied) for the wedding industry; and his views on including businesses in the wedding industry without a fixed premises in the Covid-19 business aid scheme. [9999/21]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

I understand the enormous difficulties the wedding industry is facing as the pandemic rolls on. I fully appreciate that it is one of the industries worst affected and for the longest and know that as we enter a second year of restrictions many in the sector must be fearing for their future. I do hope that once the pandemic is over the wedding sector will have a number of good years with so many weddings postponed. In the meantime, the Government wants to make sure as many businesses as possible survive to see that day.

The financial support the Government is providing businesses and workers affected by the pandemic is unprecedented. Almost a million people of working age are now in receipt of weekly payments including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), Employment Wage Subsidy (EWSS) and Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance. Support for business includes the weekly CRSS payment for businesses forced to close their doors to the public, reduced VAT rates, a commercial rates holiday, the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme as well as low cost loans.

Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. Details of the wide range of supports available are on my Department’s website.

These measures are in addition to the €7 billion July Stimulus of enterprise measures, which includes the Wage Subsidy Scheme extended through 2021, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst self-employed. We are providing for an extension of the tax warehousing scheme to include repayments of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme funds owed by employers and preliminary tax obligations for adversely affected businesses.

As announced in the July Stimulus, the Enterprise Support Grant was extended to assist eligible self-employed, including sole traders, who exit the PUP or jobseekers schemes, to re-start their business. Further information is available at www.gov.ie.

On the 9th of December, following engagement with the Arts sector and other self-employed sectors my colleague Minister Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Social Protection, announced the doubling of the PUP threshold from the current €480 over four weeks to €960 over an eight-week period effective immediately. This measure is to assist those who are trying to restart their businesses and will allow self-employed people to take on intermittent jobs without losing their entitlement to the PUP.

The Government also announced the provision of support of €50m for the live entertainment sector in Budget 2021. This will include measures for the commercial entertainment sector and will support live entertainment across the country. The 2021 supports for the live entertainment sector will be the subject of further consultation with stakeholders. It will also be informed by the pilot live performance scheme in 2020 which is being rolled out now.

The three main schemes, the CRSS, EWSS and PUP compare favourably with any other packages on offer in other countries. The new scheme, announced this week, the COVID Business Aid Scheme (CBAS) will provide funding of up to €8,000 for those businesses that are in receipt of a rates bill from their local authority. While the grant is modest, it will help smaller businesses in particular to cover these costs – rent, insurance, utilities, security.

I am aware of the scheme in Scotland and the Government is very much open to proposals from the wedding sector as to how we can help further. However, Government schemes to support businesses are generally designed to help meet fixed costs that cannot be avoided and it is not possible to provide compensation for loss of personal income or profits.

My colleagues, Minister Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht and Minister Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine may be able to provide more specific details on the events and hospitality industry and details on supports for the food sector respectively.

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