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Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 3 March 2021

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (198, 234)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Question:

198. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he plans to enhance the Covid restrictions support scheme to target businesses with a 75% drop in revenue and to remove the current €5,000 weekly cap; if the employment wage subsidy scheme will be extended to the end of 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11429/21]

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Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

234. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider extending the employment wage subsidy scheme, and Covid restrictions support scheme, for those businesses that are not likely to open until late 2021 at the earliest until December 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12133/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 and 234 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. 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 carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D. The trade must be carried on from a business premises that is located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19 Plan’, with the result that the business is required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing its business premises.

To make a claim under the CRSS, a business must be able to demonstrate that, because of the Covid restrictions, the turnover of the business in the period for which the restrictions are in operation, and for which a claim is made, will be no more than 25% of an amount equal to the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (or average weekly turnover in 2020 in the case of a new business) multiplied by the number of weeks in the period for which a claim is made.

A qualifying business may make a claim to Revenue under the CRSS for a cash payment known as an “Advance Credit for Trading Expenses”. This payment will be equal to 10% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (or in 2020 in the case of a new business) up to €20,000 and 5% thereafter, subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000, for each week that the business is affected by the Covid restrictions.

As of 25 February 2021, 20,500 businesses have registered 23,800 premises for CRSS with Revenue. 89,000 claims for CRSS payments of €328.8 million in respect of 22,200 premises have been made and €326.9 million of this has been processed for payment.

I have no plans to remove the €5,000 maximum weekly payment which ensures that support is targeted at smaller SMEs.

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. The 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 midst of these very challenging times. To date, subsidy payments of over €2.1 billion have been made and PRSI relief worth over €360m granted to over 47,200 employers in respect of over 532,000 employees.

I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to supports and, as Deputies will be aware from announcements made on Tuesday 23 February, it has been decided that both the EWSS and the CRSS are now to be extended until the end of June 2021.

With the agreement by Government on the revised plan, COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead, a cautious and measured approach will be taken as we lay the foundations for the full recovery of social life, public services and the economy. It is, therefore, appropriate that key business supports should remain in place until the end of the second quarter of 2021.

As the revised plan is implemented, the EWSS will play an important role in getting people back to work as public health restrictions are eased, thereby reducing the numbers dependent on social welfare payments over time, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Consideration is being given to the fact that continued support could 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.

The Government remains fully committed to supporting businesses and employers insofar as is possible at this time.

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