Employers in the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) sector are currently eligible to access the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) without having to demonstrate the 30% reduction in turnover required of other employers.
EWSS has been a key component of the Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is an economy-wide scheme that operates across all sectors. The special arrangement for registered ELC and SAC services to be exempted from the turnover test has made substantial financial supports available to the sector since August 2020.
For over a year, between October 2020 and November 2021, the EWSS has been paid at enhanced rates. This amounts to an investment of €34 million per month in the sector and is estimated to cover, on average, 80% staff costs and 50% operating costs.
The EWSS is due to revert to standard rates between December 2021 and February 2022. This amounts to an investment of €22 million per month in the sector and is estimated to cover, on average, 50% staff costs and 38% operating costs.
For March and April 2022 a new flat rate for the EWSS (€100) will apply. This amounts to an investment of €11 million per month in the sector and is estimated to cover, on average, 25% staff costs and 11% operating costs.
With the additional cost of play-pods and other public health measures estimated to be €12 million per month, the EWSS at enhanced and standard rates exceeds what is required by the sector to adhere to public health guidance. The EWSS at flat rates is just marginally below the cost of play-pods.
Sustainability Funding continues to be available to providers where there are sustainability difficulties. The Covid-19 Impact Support funding strand is available for both Community and Private services for eligible ELC and SAC services that require further financial assistance in addition to current support measures available.
As I announced on Budget Day, a Transition Fund will be available for providers in the sector following the cessation of EWSS from May 2022 until the introduction of the new Core Funding in September 2022. €37 million has been allocated for this fund.
From September 2022, a new Core Funding stream will operate. €69 million has been allocated to this funding stream in 2022, equivalent to €207 million full year costs and constitutes a significant and strategic new approach to funding the sector in the longer term.