Thursday, 22 October 2020

Ceisteanna (49, 51, 57, 59, 60, 61)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

49. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance if the Covid restrictions support scheme can be extended to enable companies involved in the business-to-business event industry to avail of its provisions. [32133/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

51. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Finance if the CRSS will be accessible by a business (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32245/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

57. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will address funding issues for travel agents sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32140/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

59. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if she will address a matter in relation to access to the CRSS (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32157/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe O'Brien

Ceist:

60. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance if travel agents will be eligible to apply to the recently announced CRSS scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32182/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joe O'Brien

Ceist:

61. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance if businesses in the events, exhibition and conference industries will be eligible to apply for the recently announced CRSS scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32183/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49, 51, 57, 59, 60 and 61 together.

The details of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will be set out in the Finance Bill due to be published this week. The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.   

The support will be available to companies and self-employed individuals who carry on a trade or trading activities from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions, introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan, with the result that the business is required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises.  Generally, this refers to Covid restrictions at Level 3, 4 or 5 of the Government’s Plan for Living with Covid-19 but certain businesses may qualify for the support where lower levels of restrictions are in operation.

Where, as a result of the restrictions, a company or a self-employed individual is either forced to temporarily close their business, or their business is required to operate at significantly reduced levels, they will qualify for support under the scheme.  Certain other conditions will apply, including that the person has a tax clearance certificate.

Qualifying businesses will be able to make a claim to Revenue under the CRSS for a cash payment, which will be known as an “Advance Credit for Trading Expenses” (“ACTE”). The ACTE will provide an immediate cash support to businesses. The amount of the ACTE will be based on an amount equal to 10% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (or in the case of new businesses, the average weekly turnover in 2020) up to €20,000 and 5% thereafter, subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000.

All eligible businesses can claim the support irrespective of their turnover levels, but the amount of the ACTE cannot exceed the lower of the amount based on 10%/5% of the relevant weekly turnover or €5,000 per week. 

Where businesses ordinarily operate from a business premises (generally a building) located in a region for which restrictions are in operation, they may qualify under the scheme provided they meet the eligibility criteria, including the requirement that customers are either prohibited, or significantly restricted, from accessing their business premises to purchase goods or services due to the specific terms of the Covid restrictions announced by Government.

Where a business does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises located in a region that is subject to restrictions, such as certain musicians, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria.  A business that does ordinarily operate from a music or entertainment venue (for example, a company that operates a theatre) located in a region subject to restrictions, and who meets the eligibility criteria, will however be able to claim support under CRSS.  

It is not sufficient that the trade of a business, such as a travel agency, has been impacted because of a reduction in customer demand as a consequence of Covid-19, or that the business supplies goods or services to another business that qualifies for the support because, under the Covid restrictions, that other business is required to temporarily close, or significantly reduce, its activity.  However, where customers of such a business are prohibited or significantly restricted from accessing the business premises in which the business is ordinarily carried on, as may be the case with travel agents under level 5 of the Plan for Living with Covid-19, the business may qualify for the CRSS.

Support provided under the CRSS will be in the form of a valuable upfront cash payment, enabling eligible businesses to meet costs associated with their business premises, such as rent, insurance and utilities, at a time when, because of the specific terms of the restrictions announced by the Government, they cannot, for a period of time, provide goods or services to their customers or can only do so to a limited extent. The scheme will not apply to a business in the events industry or in other sectors, which does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises located in a region subject to the restrictions, but rather supplies goods or services to a business that does qualify for support under CRSS because, under the Covid restrictions, that other business is required to temporarily close or significantly reduce its activity.  Each business must satisfy the eligibility criteria in their own right.

Companies and self-employed workers who do not qualify under this scheme may be entitled to support under various measures put in place by Government, including the range of measures announced as part of Budget 2021 to support live entertainment in 2021, and existing supports available under the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). They may also be eligible to warehouse VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts and also excess payments received by employers under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the balance of Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020 for self-assessed taxpayers if applicable.