The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (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 €1.5 billion have been made and PRSI relief worth over €270m granted to over 41,600 employers in respect of over 467,000 employees.
The scheme is demand led and the cost ultimately depends on a number of factors, including the numbers of employers making a valid claim for the subsidy and the numbers of employees they claim the subsidy in respect of. Based on the average monthly value of the EWSS claimed to date, if the scheme was to be maintained in its current form, it is estimated that it could cost an additional €350m per month in direct subsidy payments and €61m in PRSI relief. Over an additional 9 months that would cost a further €3.15bn in direct subsidy and €550m in PRSI relief.
I have always been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS. It is noted that the legislation implementing the measure provides that it will be in place until 31 March 2021, but also allows me, as Minister for Finance, to extend the scheme until the end of June 2021, subject to certain conditions.
It is likely that continued support will 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.