Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Ceisteanna (516, 530, 544, 545, 546, 549, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 560, 572, 573)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

516. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the number of applications to date to the music entertainment business assistance scheme; the number of applications approved; the number refused; the funding allocated to date; and the funding as yet unallocated. [39536/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Canney

Ceist:

530. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will review the music and entertainment business assistance scheme to create a lower turnover of €15,000 to €20,000 and remove the minimum cost to align with the small business assistance scheme for Covid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40206/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

544. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media her views on whether there has been sufficient advertising of the music and entertainment business assistance scheme; and if she will consider any future advertising and awareness campaigns in advance of the final application deadline. [40598/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

545. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the position regarding the music and entertainment business assistance scheme; the number of applications have been made both successful and unsuccessful to date; if all successful grants have been drawn down; and if there is a timeline for payment of outstanding monies owed to applicants. [40609/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

546. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason business costs are included in the music and entertainment business assistance scheme when they are not a qualifying criterion for other Government grants including the small business assistance scheme for COVID; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40611/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

549. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason minimum business costs are required of applicants for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme despite not being a requirement for the new event sector Covid support scheme, small business assistance scheme for Covid-19 or the business continuity schemes from Fáilte Ireland. [40701/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

550. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason a step-by-step online video guide or explanatory webinar was not provided to assist in explaining the music and entertainment business assistance scheme application form to potential applicants, in particular the more technical questions in the form. [40702/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

551. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason the music and entertainment business assistance scheme includes a commitment to publishing the names of successful grantees, despite this not being a requirement in other schemes such as the event sector Covid support scheme which only states names may be published.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40703/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

552. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason grant payments for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme have not yet been issued, despite applications having opened over six weeks ago on 9 June 2021. [40704/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

553. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason the wait time between applying and approval for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme is inconsistent; if her attention has been drawn to some applicants being approved within days of applying while others who had applied before them are left waiting for weeks for a decision; and the reason for the apparent random order in which applications are approved. [40705/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

554. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the process an application for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme goes through between the submission of the application to approval or refusal of the application; if applications are processed chronologically in the order in which they are submitted in a first-come-first-served manner; if there is a procedure by which it is decided to process certain applications as a priority over others previously submitted; and if so, the person charged with making such decisions. [40706/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

555. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the number of applications made by the original deadline of 7 July 2021, the first extended deadline of 21 July 2021 and in total to date for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme; and the number of applications her Department had anticipated or estimated when it announced the €14 million allocation for the scheme. [40707/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

556. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason her Department understands to be the cause of the music and entertainment business assistance scheme receiving such a low uptake; the additional measures that were undertaken to address these reasons and increase awareness and uptake when the deadline was extended to 21 July 2021 and then again to 3 August 2021; the reason the scheme was not modified in the interim to attract a higher number of applications or ease access to the scheme; and if her Department gave any consideration to modifying the scheme. [40708/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

557. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if her Department is of the view that the unnecessary extra criteria not applicable to other Covid-19 supports for businesses, such as the minimum business costs and publishing of grantee names, that the application not being sufficiently simple or properly explained, or that a lack of awareness about the grant and the way it applies to the cohort it intends to assist, contributed to the low uptake of the music and entertainment business assistance scheme and caused the need to extend the deadline for applications. [40709/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

558. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason the music and entertainment business assistance scheme was created under de minimis aid regulations as opposed to the European Union’s Temporary Framework for State Aid under which other schemes, including the small business assistance scheme for Covid-19, live performance support scheme and business continuity schemes under Fáilte Ireland, were created with the same rationale as MEBAS; and if this difference imply a difference in the degree to which the commitment to spend the allocated funding promised under the scheme must be adhered to or require the extra obstacles not involved in the temporary framework schemes, such as the minimum business costs and publishing of grantee names. [40710/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

559. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the reason a lower threshold for turnover, such as €15,000, was not used for the music and entertainment business assistance scheme, especially given the sector being known to have a below average income and some of the lowest paid workers in precarious employment without minimum wage conditions to rely on; and if she will consider lowering the turnover threshold. [40711/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

560. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media her plans to continue to extend and if a commitment will be given to extending the deadline for application to the music and entertainment business assistance scheme until such time as the allocated funding is delivered to those for whom it was intended. [40712/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

572. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will address a series of matters in relation to Covid-19 supports for businesses (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40741/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

573. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if she will address a series of matters in relation to Covid-19 supports for businesses (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40742/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 516, 530, 544, 545, 546, 549, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 560, 572 and 573 together.

As part of a €50 million suite of supports for the live entertainment sector, €14m has been made available for the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) to make a contribution to the overheads of businesses that have been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports. Under this scheme, self-employed businesses including musicians, singers, lighting and sound crew and audio equipment suppliers operating exclusively within the commercial live entertainment sector are eligible to apply. The application window for this scheme has recently been extended to 3 August.

It should be noted that this scheme is not a horizontal income support and grants are intended to provide a contribution towards businesses costs which arise even if the business is not operating. Therefore, details of fixed costs are required to determine eligibility. The scheme was developed in consultation with the sector and the eligibility criteria aims to strike an appropriate balance having regard to other available supports and the need to reach as many professional musicians and crew as possible. Grant recipients of MEBAS may also be published on the Department website, as is the case for other grants administered through this department.

Guidelines were made available prior to the scheme opening for applications to assist applicants in their preparation, along with a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section. Applicants may also contact the MEBAS team directly with questions they may have in relation to their applications. My department has also provided an online application system for ease of access with clear guidance and instruction therein.

The scheme continues to be widely publicised on my department’s website on Gov.ie and throughout various social media channels, providing up to date information in relation to extensions to the application window. Several representative and stakeholder groups have also published information in relation to the scheme.

Applications for this support are processed in chronological order. Once submitted, applications are reviewed and further information or requests for clarification are issued to the applicant where necessary. Once all details have been provided, a decision is made in line with the published criteria and guidelines and the outcome is communicated to the applicant. If an application has been approved, the applicant will be provided with details of the grant amount and when payment can be expected. If an application has been unsuccessful, details are provided as to why the application was not approved for a grant, along with information regarding the appeals process. The payments process for grants approved as of last week will commence this week and this will see payments totalling almost €1.5 million made over the coming weeks.

Grants provided under this scheme are classed as De Minimis State Aid. There is a ceiling of €200,000 for all De Minimis aid regardless of the source, given to any one enterprise or group by any state agency or public body over the last 3 years. Such amounts of De Minimis Aid are regarded as falling outside the category of State aid that is banned by the EC Treaty and can be awarded without notification to or clearance from the European Commission.

The Economic Recovery Plan published on 1 June stated that Government recognises that as long as physical distancing remains a public health requirement, further supports may be needed for this sector. Officials have gained valuable insights from this scheme and will apply these learnings when considering further support measures, including those which have recently emerged from engagement with the sector and with stakeholders. Details of further measures will be announced in due course.

While it was difficult to determine how many applications would be submitted for this scheme, 589 applications were submitted by 7 July with a further 109 submitted by 21 July. 714 applications have been received to date with 475 approved. 159 applications have been unsuccessful, with the remaining applications currently being processed or awaiting further information from the applicant.

Question No. 517 answered with Question No. 494.
Question No. 518 answered with Question No. 494.