Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (153)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

153. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach if a schedule will be provided of advisers and special advisers appointed and-or recruited by him since his appointment; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee, in tabular form. [27061/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The persons employed in my Department as Special Advisers are detailed in the table.

It should be noted that all appointments are subject to formal Government approval which I will seek in due course. Relevant contracts will be laid before the Oireachtas in due course also. All appointments will be made in line with the Public Service Management Act, 1997

Office of the Taoiseach

Name

Role

Salary Scale

Deirdre Gillane

Chief of Staff (Taoiseach's Office)

Deputy Secretary

Pat McParland

Deputy Chief of Staff (Taoiseach's Office)

Assistant Secretary

Alan Ahearne

Economic Adviser to the Taoiseach

Assistant Secretary equivalent

(part-time)

Kevin Dillon

Special Adviser to the Taoiseach

Principal Officer

Grainne Weld

Special Adviser to the Taoiseach

Principal Officer

Diarmuid Lynch

Special Adviser to the Taoiseach

Principal Officer

Office of the Government Chief Whip

Sam Griffin

Special Adviser to the Government Chief Whip

Principal Officer

Office of the Tánaiste

Brian Murphy

Chief of Staff (Tánaiste’s Office)

Deputy Secretary

Angela Flanagan

Special Adviser to the Tánaiste

Principal Officer

Philip O'Callaghan

Special Adviser to the Tánaiste

Principal Officer

Clare Mungovan

Special Adviser to the Tánaiste

Principal Officer

Jim D'Arcy

Special Adviser to the Tánaiste

Assistant Principal (Higher)

Office of the Leader of the Green Party

Anna Conlan

Joint Chief of Staff

Assistant Secretary

Donall Geoghegan

Joint Chief of Staff

Assistant Secretary

Eamonn Fahey

Special Adviser to the Leader of the Green Party

Principal Officer

David Healy

Special Adviser to the Leader of the Green Party

Principal Officer (part-time)

Niamh Allen

Special Adviser to the Leader of the Green Party

Principal Officer (part-time)

Census of Population

Ceisteanna (154)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

154. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Taoiseach Taoiseach if the geographic area, population, female population, age profile, employment rates and map, in respect of Rowlagh and Ronanstown, Clondalkin Dublin 22 will be provided. [27110/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

The Central Statistics Office publish population statistics for the following official boundary areas in Census 2016 namely, provinces, administrative counties, constituencies, local electoral areas, electoral divisions, gaeltachts, limistéir pleanála teanga, settlements, municipal districts, regional authorities and small areas. Rowlagh lies between two Electoral Divisions of Clondalkin-Rowlagh and Clondalkin-Moorfield, whereas Ronanstown lies mainly in the Electoral Division of Clondalkin-Rowlagh. Please see the attached maps for a geographical representation of the named Electoral Divisions. The following three tables present the requested demographic statistics for each of the stated Electoral Divisions.

Table 1. Population Statistics in the Electoral Division of Clondalkin-Moorfield and Clondalkin-Rowlagh, 2016.

Electoral Division

Population - 2016 (Number)

Males - 2016 (Number)

Females - 2016 (Number)

Population density (persons per sq km) (Number)

Area

(sq km) (Number)

008 Clondalkin-Moorfield, South Dublin

6376

3115

3261

2873.7

2.22

009 Clondalkin-Rowlagh, South Dublin

4096

1967

2129

5623.9

0.73

Table 2. Population by Age Group in the Electoral Division of Clondalkin-Moorfield and Clondalkin-Rowlagh, 2016.

03008 Clondalkin-Moorfield

03009 Clondalkin-Rowlagh

All Ages

6376

4096

0 - 4 years

473

274

5 - 9 years

525

307

10 - 14 years

469

266

15-19 years

499

310

20-24 years

441

292

25-29 years

540

323

30-34 years

528

340

35-39 years

496

348

40-44 years

410

271

45-49 years

393

191

50-54 years

353

184

55-59 years

353

231

60-64 years

322

302

65-69 years

320

249

70-74 years

135

113

75-79 years

79

73

80-84 years

27

16

85 years and over

13

6

Table 3. Population Aged 15 Years and Over by Principal Economic Status in the Electoral Division of Clondalkin-Moorfield and Clondalkin-Rowlagh, 2016.

03008 Clondalkin-Moorfield

03009 Clondalkin-Rowlagh

Total

4909

3249

Persons at work

2404

1456

Unemployed looking for first regular job

83

43

Unemployed having lost or given up previous job

620

502

Student or pupil

542

321

Looking after home/family

469

276

Retired

471

372

Unable to work due to permanent sickness or disability

300

265

Other economic status

20

14

The Central Statistics Office also publish small area population statistics for the small areas that nest within each Electoral Division. Should you require further granularity of the small areas that nest within each of Clondalkin-Moorfield and Clondalkin-Rowlagh Electoral Divisions please see the CSO website at the following location http://census.cso.ie/sapmap/. Alternatively the CSO can produce small area population statistics should an exact proximity be set out.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (155)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

155. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the measures that have been taken to ensure SMEs are prepared for Brexit no matter the form it may take at the end of the transition period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26406/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

My Department and its agencies have worked to put a wide range of Brexit supports in place for businesses. The suite of enterprise and finance supports in place cover the spectrum of potential Brexit impacts and aims to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken.

On 9th September last, the Government published our Brexit Readiness Action Plan. The Action Plan is a call to action setting out a broad range of changes that will occur in less than four months’ time, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU-UK negotiations. It provides clear and concise advice on steps that need to be taken now by businesses and individuals in order to prepare for the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020. As of 1 January 2021, the UK will be outside the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. This will have significant implications for every business who moves goods to, from, or through Great Britain.

All Government Departments and agencies and regulatory bodies are preparing for the end of the transition period. It is important that we use the most appropriate mix of timely, practical assistance to companies trading with, or through the Great Britain, when Brexit becomes a reality on the 1st January next.

That is why we announced a number of new measures to help businesses to get ready for the introduction of new customs arrangements from 1 January 2021, in addition to supports in place already to help with COVID-19 and Brexit.

These include a new €20 million ‘Ready for Customs’ support scheme which is part of the Government’s €5 billion July Stimulus package. Enterprise Ireland are rolling out this new ‘Ready for Customs’ scheme to help businesses recruit and build staff expertise in customs declarations and provide for related investment in relevant ICT. This financial incentive of up to €9,000 will help businesses meet the challenge that will become very real on 1st January next.

My Department is also work with Skillnet Ireland which has launched a free online customs training programme, Clear Customs, to support the customs intermediary sector and businesses that moves goods frequently to, from, or through Great Britain.

The range of measures in place to assist businesses include Brexit checklists and advisory tools, direct grants and funding supports:

- Enterprise Ireland are running an on-line Customs Insights course and EI will also launch a new Brexit Readiness Checker. The tool will produce a report assessing a company’s readiness for Brexit;

- the Local Enterprise Offices are running a second phase of their one-to-one successful Brexit mentoring and training “Prepare Your Business for Customs” workshops, which commenced last week and will continue to offer their grants to business responding to Brexit challenges including the Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters (TAME) grant of €2,500 and LEAN for Micro grants to assist productivity improvements;

- the new €2 billion Credit Guarantee Scheme, which we launched last week, is the largest guarantee scheme that has ever been provided for Irish businesses to date to ensure there is financing available for Irish businesses as they reboot and rebuild both through Covid-19 and Brexit;

- we have also provided further funding to MFI to ensure it can meet the needs of microenterprises that can not avail of bank funding over the coming period;

- businesses also need longer term funding for investment purposes, and we have expanded the SBCI Future Growth Loan Scheme up to €800m in lending; and,

- we will consider what further measures are needed in the context of Budget 2021 as the shape of the final deal with the UK becomes clear.

Supports and advice are also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Fáilte Ireland. Full details on all Brexit supports are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/EU-Internal-Market/Brexit/Getting-Brexit-Ready/.

Foreign Direct Investment

Ceisteanna (156)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

156. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he remains satisfied that Ireland remains an attractive investment location for foreign direct investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27249/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

COVID-19 has presented undeniable challenges to our ongoing efforts to sustain and grow foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland. The introduction of travel restrictions around the world is already, for example, disrupting the typical way in which the IDA engages with investors, resulting in fewer numbers of site visits and client meetings. The pandemic has also impacted investor confidence and has likely caused some investment decisions to be delayed or postponed.

Notwithstanding these challenges, which are also faced by our competitor countries, IDA Ireland's results for the first six months of this year have demonstrated the resilience of our FDI base. The Agency has secured over 130 investments to date in 2020, which have the potential to create almost 10,000 jobs. Almost half of these new projects were secured for locations outside Dublin, with 53 investments from companies investing in Ireland for the first time.

I believe that these 2020 investments reflect our continuing attractiveness to overseas firms. Overseas companies continue, the evidence would suggest, to value our FDI strengths. These include our talented and flexible work-force, a track record as a successful home to global businesses and a hard-won reputation as a pro-enterprise jurisdiction. Our continued commitment to the European Union, the single market and Eurozone, as well as to free trade and multilateralism, are other key selling points that help us convince multinational companies to establish operations and create jobs here.

At the same time, we do recognise that the global competition for FDI is intensifying and we are under no illusions that the time ahead will prove more challenging. We will have to fight, harder than ever before, for new investment projects and the jobs that go with them. This will include working with the IDA on the formulation of a new strategy that will guide the Agency's work in the time ahead.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (157)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans for further measures to assist the business sector negatively impacted by Covid-19, with particular reference to the likelihood that the virus will remain a threat for some time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27251/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Government's July Stimulus introduced a €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs. Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

The full range of Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant and advisory supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.

The July Stimulus package was designed to help businesses to open, to help those already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, there are new opportunities.

The range of measures in place to assist businesses include direct grants to support viable businesses and jobs, including new hire. We have extended the wage subsidy scheme, which will run until the end of March 2021 and will be open to firms that do not currently participate and open to workers like seasonal workers who were not previously included, and we are giving companies extra assistance through an enhanced Restart Plus grant of up to €25,000. From 1st September, the six-month reduction in the VAT came into effect, going down from 23% to 21%.

We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. I announced the reopening of MFI lending on 31st August and I launched the €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme on 7th September.

I am working with my colleagues across Government to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19 and I will continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review with the goal of setting our country towards economic recovery.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (158)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

158. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the policy responses and targeted supports for digital transformation that will salvage businesses and jobs in the events sector in recognition that this industry generates €3.5 billion for the economy annually, €850 million from the export market and supports 35,000 full-time equivalent employees and noting the collapse of in-person business events and a shift to virtual platforms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26276/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I am acutely aware of the difficulties the events sector has faced in recent months due to the impact of social distancing requirements. The events industry is comprised of a number of diverse industry sectors comprising a mixture of large and small firms. Many event industry firms do currently use large online platforms to generate income, increase online visibility and to reach new international markets. These online platforms are key enablers of entrepreneurship, digital trade and innovation. Ireland has a strong base of firms in the audio visual and digital technologies that can partner with those in the events industry on new modes of developing and distributing content.

The digital economy permeates all aspects of society, influencing the way people interact and bringing about broad societal changes. The current COVID-19 crisis has brought this into even sharper relief by highlighting the dependence for both individuals and businesses, particularly SMEs, now have on the digital economy and, in particular, online digital platforms through their disruptive digital technologies and the services they provide.

On 9 September last my colleague the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin, T.D, announced a new pilot “Live Performance Support Scheme” to assist commercial promoters and producers to employ artists, musicians, performers, technicians and other support staff in live performances, which may subsequently have to be curtailed, cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19. The key aim of “Live performance Support Scheme” is to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters of live performances to provide employment to workers in the creative industries while also producing high quality live performances for the public.

It is proving particularly challenging for project promoters currently to implement social distancing while also being commercially viable for live performances to take place. The sector is proactively working to implement measures to enable their industry to reopen as soon as it is safe, practicable and viable to do so; and this scheme aims to support the live performance sector in achieving this. Applicants can apply for a grant from €10,000 to a maximum of €800,000 on a matched funding basis which can be used to fund a percentage of eligible costs.

For micro- business in the events sector, the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in each county provide access to training, mentoring and funding assistance for those considering their digital transformation strategies. As part of the Government's July Stimulus Package, we have expanded the LEO's Trading Online Voucher Scheme to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500, covering up to 90 of the costs for businesses to develop their online presence.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (159, 160, 161)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

159. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if there will be a policy response that will allow the events sector to scale up using State agency supports that manufacturers, processors and online businesses currently avail of, in view of the substantial contribution of the business events sector to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26277/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

160. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to provide financial support to assist the business events industry in its recovery in view of the devastating impact Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns and restrictions has had on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26278/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

161. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if an assessment will be made of the potential long-term economic effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on business events industry; and the steps taken to date to assist the recovery of the sector. [26279/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 to 161, inclusive, together.

I recognise that the business events industry comprises numerous and diverse industry sectors such as conference organisers, music events and hospitality, exhibitions and trade shows, theatre and arts, as well as ancillary services such as travel and tours. There can be no doubt about the difficulties these sectors have faced in recent months due to the impact of social distancing requirements and large gatherings.

My Department has had recent engagement with those representing the events sector. Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Mr. Robert Troy TD, is also in ongoing contact with sector representatives. The Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Businesses, Mr. Damien English TD, recently met with representatives of the newly formed Events Industry Ireland (EII), which represents event professionals and business owners from the Irish events industry. Discussions were held concerning the adverse effects of COVID- 19 on the events sector in general, the Government supports available to sectors and to certain suggestions which the EII had put forward to assist their sector to recover. Some of these suggestions included potential for funding for business transformation both digital and environmental, a tax incentivisation scheme and further assistance with finance / loan forbearance and on insurance issues.

The €7.4 billion July Jobs Stimulus Plan itself provides scope for some businesses within the events sector to avail of the continuation of measures such as the income support package consisting of the PUP extension and the employment wage support scheme and additional liquidity, enterprise investment and taxation measures.

The Government's COVID-19 'Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19' specifically deals with organised events and we will continue to work with the industry to progress the development of agreed protocols and innovative ways to enable the hosting of such organised events into the future. Government will also continue to work with the sector to explore what supports are available through Enterprise Ireland to assist events businesses transform and change their business models by availing of innovation and technology over the longer term.

In addition to the wider range of supports now available, there may be scope for some businesses within the events sector to avail of the new measures introduced by the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Ms. Catherine Martin TD, under the July stimulus package. For example, Minister Martin announced on 9th September last an allocation of €5 million under the “Live Performance Support Scheme” which aims to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters of live performances and provide employment to workers in the creative industries. The scheme will help to de-risk the costs of preparing for new productions which may subsequently have to be postponed, cancelled or curtailed due to restrictions to safeguard public health. The main objective of the scheme is to provide employment opportunities in the ticketed performance sector and allow commercial organisers of live performances to commence preparations immediately and productions to go ahead in the near future while also complying with public health protection measures. This scheme has been developed following consultation with the sector and will be managed directly by the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

A further support package, the Music Stimulus Package, involves three funding schemes designed to help sustain the popular and commercial music sector across all music genres. Under this package, a fund of €1,000,000 is being put in place to stimulate areas of work which artists would usually fund with income from own sources including live event fees. The aim is to ensure that Irish musicians, engineers, PR, media, agents, labels and publishers can continue to develop and share their work in the context of COVID restrictions.

In the wider context of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery Plan, the operation and reopening of sectors will be guided by the need to manage risk and repairing the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on society and business. At the same time, all decisions taken by Government on the timing of any lifting of restrictions will continue to be informed by the public health advice in terms of whether to increase or remove the limits on mass indoor gatherings having regard to the public health advice.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (162)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

162. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the policy responses and targeted supports for the retail sector in order that consumer spending can return to pre-Covid-19 levels in view of the 292,000 jobs dependent on retail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26282/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

As Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment I am acutely aware that COVID-19 has brought particular challenges for individual sectors, including retail and has affected large and small retailers across the country.

As the largest private sector employer, and a key element providing for the needs of society and indeed other sectors of the economy, it is vital that retail continues to operate to the extent possible and continues to develop capability and remain competitive. The supports available from Government are designed to help businesses to open, to help those that are already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, to transition to new opportunities as soon as possible.

On 23 July the Government announced the July Stimulus Package, a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees. These new measures are in addition to those already announced since the onset of the Pandemic, including the Temporary Wage Subsidy, the Restart Grant and Restart Grant Plus, grant supports. cash for businesses, low cost loans and commercial rates waivers.

Significantly, to support viable businesses and jobs, including new hires, we have extended the wage subsidy scheme, which will run until the end of March 2021 and we have also improved eligibility criteria for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. In addition:

- We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme.

- We announced a six-month reduction in VAT, going from 23% down to 21%, together with a range of additional measures designed to stimulate domestic demand.

- We also announced a €2 million assistance fund for Micro-Enterprises that cannot avail of any sectoral specific supports.

The range of measures in place to assist businesses include direct grants and supports such as the:

- Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS)

- The Restart Grant Plus

- Liquidity supports such as 0% finance for 6 months from MicroFinance Ireland

- Low cost working capital is also available through the SBCI schemes

- State-backed Future Growth Loan Scheme which makes available longer-term lending for strategic investment, with €500 million expansion of the scheme

The Retail Forum, an initiative of my Department, provides a platform for engagement between retail representative bodies, retailers and government on key concerns for the retail sector, including COVID-19 and Brexit. My colleague, Damien English TD Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail chairs the Retail Forum and continues to engage with the retail sector through this Forum. The most recent meeting of the Retail Forum was on 24 September 2020. Additionally, in recent weeks, Minister English has held a series of one-to-one introductory bilateral meetings with the retail representative bodies as members of the Retail Forum.

Trading online is a very important route for retail businesses to grow and improve their business in the current crisis and will be an important element in their recovery over the longer term. The COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme - a competitive scheme, administered on my Department's behalf by Enterprise Ireland, is to support companies in the indigenous retail sector who have already started an online journey, to further enhance and strengthen their online presence, which will have the most immediate impact enabling them to respond to both domestic and international consumer demand with a competitive online offer.

My Department proposed this Scheme in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability. Applicant companies must be an indigenous retailer, employing 10 or more people, have an existing online presence (e.g. website or social media), and have a retail outlet through which they derive the majority of their revenue. The Scheme was launched with an initial fund size of €2m. Due to significant levels of interest for the Scheme from eligible retailers and the particular challenges facing the retail sector during the pandemic, the funding available for Call 1 was increased. On the 2 July 2020, I was pleased to announce that 185 retailers were approved €6.6m in funding as part of the scheme. A second Call, with a total fund size of €5.5m. which was launched by Minister of State English closed on the 28 September 2020.

The Deputy will also be aware of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme administered through the Local Enterprise Offices. As part of the July Jobs Stimulus the Scheme was expanded to assist even more small and micro enterprises, with no more than 10 employees, including those in the retail sector, to get online quickly. Although not designed exclusively for the retail sector it provides significant assistance to retailers to start to trade online. Following a previous expansion of the Scheme in early April, total additional funding for the Scheme is now almost €20m in 2020. Under the Scheme, small businesses can claim up to €5,000 in two vouchers worth €2,500 each.

I am committed to supporting the needs of the retail sector and will work closely with my colleague Minister English and the Retail Forum in ensuring that the needs of the sector are considered including in the development of forthcoming National Economic Plan. I expect that the Plan will set longer term objectives for the economy post crisis and identify policies and strategies to achieve those objectives. The Plan will be progressed over the coming weeks and I would expect it to launch in November.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (163)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

163. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if further stimulus plans will be introduced targeting the retail and hospitality sector, in view of the significant reduction in turnover and the closure of many; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26283/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I am aware that the economic impact of COVID-19 has not been the same across all sectors of the economy. For some sectors, especially those that require personal contact with customers, such as retail and hospitality, it has been more difficult to adapt to social distancing requirements. Amongst the most heavily-impacted are those where the duration of the disruption, ongoing restrictions on international mobility and distancing requirements necessary to prevent spread of the virus, remain a barrier to capacity or resumption of normal activity and productivity.

The priority of the Government continues to be the wellbeing of our people and communities and the best economic policy is to put public health first. But we are increasingly focussing on business and on getting as many people as possible back to work.

To date the Government has provided enhanced provisions to a value of almost €20 billion. While these supports are wide ranging, they will by their nature be of most assistance to the most heavily impacted firms and sectors.

The July Stimulus Package was, as promised, a package of measures of sufficient scale that demonstrates the commitment this Government has to save enterprises, limit the damage to our economy wreaked by this pandemic and get our people back to work. Indeed, it is bigger in scale than most budgets and it is being deployed at speed.

Businesses, including those in the retail and hospitality sector, will be able to benefit from many of the actions within the July Stimulus including:

- The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and its successor the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme has, and will provide, absolutely critical assistance to impacted businesses right across the economy. For the most heavily impacted sectors such as hospitality, the schemes will give businesses a chance to resume activity while operating under the constraints demanded by public health requirements by heavily subsidising probably their largest variable cost.

- The Online Retail Scheme, administered by Enterprise Ireland, helps support companies in the indigenous retail sector with a pre-existing online presence to respond to both the domestic and international consumer demand for a competitive online offer. To date, funding under this scheme has been provided to 185 retailers with a total of over €6.5 million awarded.

- We have provided substantial Restart Grants of up to €25,000 to a broad category of businesses such as hairdressers, sports clubs, cafes, restaurants, B&Bs, independent hotels to help cover the costs incurred during closure and reopening costs. By the 4th September, approvals to the value of €155 million were approved under the Restart Grant and €187 million under the enhance Restart Grant; a total of €342 million.

- We have introduced a temporary reduction in VAT from 23% to 21%, this will assist retail in particular but also benefit many other sectors of the economy.

- The ‘Stay and Spend’ initiative will see consumers benefit by up to €125 each for expenditure on hospitality activities during the traditional ‘off peak’ for this sector.

- We also allocated €10 million to a Restart Fund for the Tourism Sector to aid recovery.

- Recognising the economic impact of Covid-19 on pubs, bars and nightclubs, and to assist planning and adaptation for their re-opening, an additional €16 million support package for the sector was announced at the end of August. This included a 40% Restart Grant Plus Top Up for pubs, bars and nightclubs that remain closed to help them to reopen; a waiver of court fees and associated excise and stamp duties relating to the renewal of pub and other liquor licences in 2020; and a waiver of excise duty on on-trade liquor licences on renewal in 2020.

- Several other initiatives to provide vital liquidity to all firms who are experiencing impacts have been introduced including rates waivers, delayed payment of PAYE and VAT debts, in part or in full, for a set period with no interest or penalties, and the early carryback of trading losses providing immediate cash-flow support to previously profitable companies.

- Most recently, I announced the opening of the new €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to provide Irish businesses with access to low cost loans as they respond to the impacts of COVID-19. This is the biggest ever state-backed loan guarantee in Ireland. A large number of non-bank finance providers, including a number of Credit Unions have also applied to participate in the scheme, as part of an open call process.

- The Microfinance Ireland Covid-19 Loan scheme also recently reopened. Under the first phase of this scheme, 687 loans were approved to a value of €18.68 million. This represents three years of normal lending volumes for MFI in a period of just over four months. I expect the new tranche of funding will provide a lifeline to even more micro-enterprises enabling them to re-open, stay afloat or expand.

Having come through the initial economic shock with unprecedented levels of State intervention stabilising the economy, the focus is now on sustaining the recovery in the face of uncertainty and disruption while seeking to minimise permanent loss of economic activity and employment. As such, the next steps in our recovery journey will be mapped out in the October budget and the subsequent National Economic Plan.

As per the recent Budget 2021 Strategy announcement, Budget 2021 will see additional crisis-related supports tailored to those sectors and workers who are most in need.

The National Economic Plan will set out a vision for what our post-Covid economy will look like. The plan will set longer term objectives for the economy post crisis and identify policies and strategies to achieve those objectives. While the focus of Government action up to now has been on protecting workers, households and firms, the plan will need to look to the future and show how our economy can be positioned to exploit opportunities for growth in emerging sectors and in areas such as new ways of working, while also addressing how we will prepare for the transitioning of enterprises and workers in response to technology and climate change developments. Ireland’s flexible and skilled labour force has traditionally been a strength of the country and reskilling and upskilling of the labour force in response to anticipated future skills needs a core element to be progressed under the plan.

The plan will be progressed over the coming weeks and I would expect it to launch in November.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (164)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

164. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he will take in budget 2021 to support the small and medium enterprise sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26284/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I have been engaging with the Minister of Finance and Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the 2021 budgetary priorities.

I will be focusing in particular on building on the measures in the July Stimulus Package. I want to help small businesses in particular to navigate the months ahead, which will be challenging, and help get as many people as possible back to work. The July Stimulus includes enhanced direct grants to businesses and improved access to low cost loans, worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees. It is bigger in scale than most budgets and will be deployed at speed. It is designed to help businesses to open, to help those that are already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, there are new opportunities.

We’ve already pumped billions of euro into the economy, through wage subsidies, the PUP, cash for businesses, low cost loans and commercial rates waivers. We know these actions have made a difference. Helping to repair the damage wrought on the economy – and keeping the virus contained – is vital for the wellbeing of our people. As set out in the July Stimulus we will do this by:

- supporting viable businesses and jobs, including new hires, through the extended wage subsidy scheme, which run until the end of March 2021, will be open to firms that do not currently participate and open to workers like seasonal workers who weren’t previously included;

- giving companies extra assistance to reopen and stay open through an enhanced Restart grant available to more firms and more generous;

- providing more and cheaper loan finance;

- funding to help businesses and get ready for Brexit;

- exploiting opportunities in areas like Life Sciences and investing in decarbonisation and digitalisation;

- the six month reduction in the VAT, going down from 23% to 21%;

- more funding for the IDA to promote Ireland as a place for foreign direct investment.

It is likely that COVID 19 and Brexit will continue to affect the Irish economy over the next 12 to 18 months and we will need to continue to be aware of the challenges that these pose for enterprise.

Whilst these will be the most immediate concerns to our enterprises, we must continue to respond in a way that also addresses the medium and long-term needs of enterprise.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (165)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

165. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the sector specific supports in place and-or the plans to introduce support services for the wet pub sector. [26312/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Restart Grant Plus provides direct grant aid to businesses with up to 250 employees to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. The grant could also be used to defray ongoing fixed costs during closure, for example, utilities, insurance, refurbishment or for measures to ensure employee and customer safety.

In most cases the grant will be the amount of the rates assessment for the premises for 2019, with a minimum grant is €4,000 and the maximum grant is €25,000 (or maximum of €15,000 for businesses that received the maximum of €10,000 under the original Restart Grant Scheme). Top-ups are available for eligible businesses in Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Dublin and Donegal in respect of a further period of restrictions, for ‘wet’ pubs, bars and nightclubs nationwide that re-opened on 21 September, and for ‘wet’ pubs, bars and nightclubs in Dublin that remain closed.

Businesses in Laois, Kildare and Offaly are eligible for a special top-up grant, which amounts to 20% for businesses in Laois and Offaly, and 40% for businesses in Kildare, in light of the recent restrictions which the government had to introduce, bringing the new minimum grant to €5,600 and the maximum grant to €35,000.

Businesses in Dublin and Donegal are generally eligible for a 30% top-up due to the most recent restrictions. Donegal pubs remain partially open so get the pubs 40% top up (that is, the 30% businesses top up plus an additional 10%). Dublin pubs remain closed so get the 30% businesses top plus 40% pub top up, that is a total 70%).

My Department and its agencies have been focussed on coming up with solutions to help businesses overcome the challenges presented by the unprecedented difficulties caused by COVID-19. Details of the wide range of supports available are noted on my Department’s website at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (166)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

166. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way in which he plans to retain as many of the jobs as possible over the course of the next three, six, nine and 12 months; the level of engagement he is having with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection in this regard; if he has established a committee with his Department, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26313/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

Having come through the initial economic shock of the pandemic which saw 1.2 million people unemployed or being supported by either the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) or the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) in April this year, there are positive signs indicating that people are now returning to work.

The latest data from the CSO shows the monthly unemployment rate, adjusted to include those in receipt of the PUP, has almost halved from 28.5% in May 2020 to 15.4% in August. The numbers receiving the PUP have fallen from 598,000 at the beginning of May to 206,341 on 22nd September; a decrease of over 65%.

Over 663,600 employees received a subsidy through the TWSS during its operation. By 17th September, over 34,300 employers had registered with Revenue for the new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). According to the Revenue data, 85.2% of these employers are in their Business Division which is predominantly comprised of small and micro enterprises.

These schemes have played an important role in maintaining incomes throughout the pandemic. The TWSS has helped to maintain that important link between employers and their workers. Furthermore, the design of the TWSS has allowed it to provide vital supports to businesses right across the economy, including many of those who continued to trade despite the extremely challenging trading environment of the past few months.

The EWSS, which was introduced in the July Stimulus, provides a crucial support to businesses as they resume activity in the face of challenges to their business models brought about by COVID-19. It represents a weekly subsidy to each job provided by that business, thereby reducing the costs of labour, which are typically amongst the most significant costs incurred by businesses. The EWSS has broader application than the TWSS; for example it includes employees that were not previously eligible, such as seasonal workers and newly hired personnel. The EWSS will run until 31 March 2021.

In addition to the EWSS, the July Stimulus Package included a variety of measures aimed at retaining jobs and supporting people back into employment through further education and training and labour market activation measures.

Enterprise supports include the extension of the Restart Grant and the Commercial Rates Waiver, the introduction of the Credit Guarantee Scheme, additional resources for MicroFinance Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, an expansion of the Future Growth Loan scheme, Enterprise Ireland’s Sustaining Enterprise Fund, and the Online Retail and Online Trading Voucher schemes.

Reskilling and Upskilling supports include 12,500 additional places for short-term skills training and 35,000 additional places in further and higher education (Skillnet Ireland, Springboard+, Human Capital Initiative) including 19,000 on the new SOLAS Skills to Compete programme which will support people in developing and attaining qualifications for emerging growth sectors and occupations. A temporary Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme was introduced along with a Retrofit Skills Training Initiative to support the expansion of the National Retrofitting programme.

Labour activation supports include 8,000 recruitment subsidies under the JobsPlus scheme, an increasing of the capacity of the Public Employment Service to support jobseeker job search advice and assistance, extension of the Back to Work Enterprise and Back to Education Allowances to people currently in receipt of the PUP. Some 10,000 additional work placement/experience scheme places for those unemployed for over 6 months are also being provided.

While uncertainty remains as to the course and duration of the virus, as well as a threat of a no deal Brexit, a number of forecasts for the medium-term trajectory of the labour market have been published. The Central Bank in its Quarterly Bulletin, July 2020, under a baseline scenario, projects that unemployment will average 14.5% in 2020, decline to 9.2% in 2021, and decline further to 7.3% in 2022. Under a severe scenario, it is projected that unemployment will average 16.6% in 2020, decline to 12.4% in 2021 and decline further to 9.4% in 2022. The Department of Finance forecast in April that unemployment will reach 10.9% by the end of 2020, and 9% by the end of 2021. The ESRI’s Summer 2020 Quarterly Economic Commentary sets out baseline, severe and benign scenarios for unemployment in 2020, of 17%, 19% and 15% respectively.

The focus is now on sustaining the recovery in the face of uncertainty and disruption while seeking to minimise permanent loss of economic activity and employment. As such, the next steps in our recovery journey will be mapped out in the October budget and the subsequent National Economic Plan.

The National Economic Plan will set out a vision for a post-Covid economy and identify policies and strategies to achieve those objectives. While the focus of Government action up to now has been on protecting workers, households and firms, the plan will look to the future and set out how our economy can be positioned to exploit opportunities for growth in emerging sectors and in areas such as new ways of working, while also addressing how we will prepare for the transitioning of enterprises and workers in response to technology and climate change developments and the acceleration of trends as a result of COVID-19. Anticipating future skills needs, and re-skilling and upskilling of the labour force will be a core element to be progressed under the plan with increased support for job or role transitioning. The plan will be progressed over the coming weeks and I would expect it to launch in November.

In terms of cross government engagement on labour market issues, the Labour Market Advisory Council was set up to provide advice to the Minister and the Government with advice regard to the labour force participation rates, minimising unemployment levels and reducing average unemployment durations. The onset of the pandemic meant that the first task of the Council was to advise on measures to tackle the labour market challenges arising from the pandemic with an aim of supporting broader economic recovery in the State. The Council will also advise on the wider labour market and employment policy challenges that face the Irish economy in the post-pandemic recovery period. Under its Terms of Reference, a central function of the Council is to advise Government on the development of the Pathways to Work strategy.

The forthcoming Pathways to Work 2020-2025 strategy, which is the Government’s overall framework for activation and employment support, is expected to be published in Q4 2020 and will complement the National Economic Plan.

The Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) comprises representatives of employers and trade unions with Government Ministers and is chaired by the Taoiseach. The LEEF was established to bring together representatives of employers and trade unions with Ministers to exchange views on economic and employment issues as they affect the labour market. The aim of the LEEF is to provide a space to discuss areas of shared concern affecting the economy, employment and the labour market on a thematic basis, such as competitiveness, sustainable job creation, labour market standards and equality and gender issues in the workplace.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (167)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Ceist:

167. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the timetable for paying out the business restart plus grant, in view of the fact there is confusion among businesses regarding when successful grant applications will be announced. [26586/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I am not aware of the issues raised by the Deputy regarding alleged confusion amongst businesses awaiting payment of Restart Grant Plus funding.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Restart Grant Plus scheme is funded by this Department and is administered by the Local Authorities on the Department’s behalf.

The Deputy will appreciate that to date, both the Restart Grant and Restart Grant Plus scheme have seen a combined total of approximately 69,000 successful applicants approved for funding from a total of approximately 95,000 applications made to both schemes.

Applications are processed and payments are administered to successful applicants in the quickest timeframe as is possible. It is a matter for the applicant and the relevant Local Authority as to how quickly an application is turned around and a decision communicated to the applicant.

Further information may be obtained by contacting the Business Support Unit of the relevant Local Authority directly.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Ceisteanna (168)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

168. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the actions of an employer (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26695/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I understand the concern these changes may have for workers and their families during an already challenging period for both individuals and businesses.

The Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 provides that an employer must provide their employee with a written statement of the particulars of the employee’s terms of employment. It also provides that an employer must notify the employee of any changes in the particulars given in the statement. The Act provides a right of complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) where an employer fails to comply with either of the above. The WRC is an office under the aegis of my Department. As part of its functions the WRC provides information relating to employment entitlements/obligations and industrial relations matters by means of their telephone service. This service is manned by experienced Information Officers.

While an employer may renegotiate the terms and conditions of the contract of employment with an employee, they may not reduce any term or condition to a level lower than statutory entitlement. It is best practice that any such renegotiation should be undertaken in consultation with the affected employee, and taking a long-term view of the employment relationship.

An employee may have recourse to pursue a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2015, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 or the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (169)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

169. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to help a sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26699/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I am aware of the serious difficulties arising for Irish licensed travel agents and tour operators in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic collapse of overseas travel and tourism.

To date Government has provided a wide range of supports to businesses across the economy, including those operating in the travel and tourism sectors. The wage subsidy schemes have been the most important supports and have allowed businesses to retain the link with employees even as revenues have fallen away. Other supports such as the tax warehousing scheme have been important in allowing businesses to retain short-term liquidity. Costs such as rates have been waived for many businesses. Additionally, my Department has a wide range of supports which are available to businesses within this sector. The Restart Grant is a direct cash injection of up to €25,000 into eligible businesses, easy to access loans are available from Microfinance Ireland, the new COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme offers a range of loans from €10,000 up to €1M. Mentoring and other such soft supports which can help businesses navigate their way through this crisis are available through the Local Enterprise Office network.

I understand that my colleague the Minister for Transport who has responsibility for this sector has provided a special financial guarantee under a Refund Credit Note scheme for the sector. This guarantees credit notes that licensed travel agent and tour operators issue to their customers; without this guarantee, it is likely that the industry would otherwise have to pay back cash refunds. I understand that credit notes in excess of €17m have already been issued to consumers under the scheme.

I am aware that businesses in the sector are looking for more assistance and the Irish Travel Agents Association has made representations on behalf of its members for additional financial supports in the form of top-ups to business support schemes announced in the July Stimulus. These proposals will be considered by Government in due course.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (170)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

170. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will bring forward the employment permits (consolidation and amendment) Bill. [26831/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

A fundamental review of Economic Migration Policy, in 2018, indicated that while the employment permits system provides a robust basis for the management of economic migration, the current legislation imposes a degree of inflexibility on the operation of the system. The review overseen by the Economic Migration Interdepartmental Group, included a public consultation process and an international benchmarking exercise. The Review’s recommendations included the drafting of a new bill to adjust the legislative structure of the system, to allow for swift responses to changes in labour supply and demand, or employment practices.

Government approval has been secured for the General Scheme and work is progressing on the development of the legislation. Drafting of the Bill is progressing well.

Pre-Legislative Scrutiny took place on 13th November 2019 with DBEI officials attending the Joint Oireachtas Committee however, as the General Election was called before the Committee’s report issued, it is likely that officials may have to attend the Committee again, the date to be confirmed.

It is expected that it will be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas in early 2021.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (171)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

171. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the 40% restart grant plus top-up will be extended to pubs nationally that have to remain closed due to public health restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26979/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Restart Grant Plus provides direct grant aid to businesses with up to 250 employees to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures. The grant is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. The grant could also be used to defray ongoing fixed costs during closure, for example, utilities, insurance, refurbishment or for measures to ensure employee and customer safety.

In most cases the grant will be the amount of the rates assessment for the premises for 2019, with a minimum grant is €4,000 and the maximum grant is €25,000 (or maximum of €15,000 for businesses that received the maximum of €10,000 under the original Restart Grant Scheme). Top-ups are available for eligible businesses in Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Dublin and Donegal in respect of a further period of restrictions, for ‘wet’ pubs, bars and nightclubs nationwide that re-opened on 21 September, and for ‘wet’ pubs, bars and nightclubs in Dublin that remain closed.

Businesses in Dublin and Donegal are generally eligible for a 30% top-up due to the most recent restrictions. Donegal pubs remain partially open so get the pubs 40% top up (that is, the 30% businesses top up plus an additional 10%). Dublin pubs remain closed so get the 30% businesses top plus 40% pub top up, that is a total 70%).

Details of the wide range of COVID-19 supports available are noted on my Department’s website at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Ceisteanna (172)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

172. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports available to the chauffeur sector in view of the extreme hardship experienced by the sector due to the Covid-19 emergency; the grant aid available to chauffeur services; if a long-term debt relief plan has been considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27024/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Government introduced the July Stimulus €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs. Full details on all COVID19 supports for business are available at: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/

The July Stimulus Package is a substantial financial package to stimulate our economy worth more than €5 billion, with an additional €2 billion in loan guarantees which is bigger in scale than most budgets and is being deployed at speed. The July Stimulus package was designed to help businesses to open, to help those already open to stay open, to get staff back to work and for those who cannot go back to their old jobs, there are new opportunities.

The range of measures in place to assist businesses include direct grants to support viable businesses and jobs, including new hire. We have extended the wage subsidy scheme, which will run until the end of March 2021 and will be open to firms that do not currently participate and open to workers like seasonal workers who were not previously included, and we are giving companies extra assistance through an enhanced Restart Plus grant of up to €25,000. From 1st September, the six-month reduction in the VAT came into effect, going down from 23% to 21%.

We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the new €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme. I announced the reopening of MFI lending on 31st August and I launched the €2bn Credit Guarantee Scheme on 7th September.

Businesses that are in the chauffeur sector may also be eligible for the Government's new Restart Grant Plus Scheme where they operate from a rateable premises. Grants of between €4,000 up to a maximum of €25,000 are available. Those businesses that accessed funding through the previous round of the scheme are eligible to apply for a second top-up payment to a total combined value of the revised maximum grant level.

The Government is examining all appropriate business supports to assist enterprises, including self-employed service providers, impacted by Covid-19, as we prepare the forthcoming Recovery Plan.

My colleague, Minister Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister for Transport may be able to provide more specific guidance on supports for the transport sector, and private chauffeur providers.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (173)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

173. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will respond to a person (details supplied) in relation to the deadline for filing a company annual return; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27031/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

The Registrar of Companies is a statutory role and the Registrar is independent in the exercise of this function. Decisions relating to the treatment of annual returns rest with the Registrar.

In March, the Registrar took a decision, in light of the Covid-19 situation, to treat all annual returns, where the deadline for filing falls between 18th March 2020 and 30th June 2020 (both dates inclusive), as received on time if all elements are submitted by 30th June 2020. The Register took a further decision in May to extend the arrangement until 31st October 2020 for companies filing with the Companies Registration Office and until 31st December 2020 for friendly societies, industrial & provident societies and trade unions filing with the Registry of Friendly Societies. At that time, the Registrar indicated her reluctance to providing any further extension later in the year but committed to keep the situation under review.

The CRO plays an important role in providing up to date information to those who deal with business in Ireland. A range of stakeholders including creditors, lawyers, lenders, commercial entities, law enforcement and the Revenue Commissioners all have a need to access up to date commercial information relating to companies registered with the CRO. In the current situation, the Registrar must balance the public interest in having up to date company information available against the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

It should be recognised that significant numbers of companies have managed to file their annual returns and have not needed to avail of the full extended filing period. I am informed that over 56% of companies who are due to file by end October have already completed their filing while a further 20% have partly filed. This reflects the normal experience of companies filing with CRO.

I understand that the Registrar, having considered the issues and bearing in mind the current level of restrictions in operation, considers that it is not appropriate to further extend the filing period beyond 31st of October. However, the matter is being kept under ongoing review.