The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (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. While the criteria for eligibility for business in general is based on a reduction in turnover, I negotiated a special arrangement for registered Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare (ELC and SAC) services to be exempt from this turnover test, thereby enabling services to operate sustainably and consistently throughout the pandemic.
Since the introduction of the EWSS, there has been regular and, where necessary, detailed engagement between my Department and the Department of Finance, who have responsibility for the EWSS, and Revenue who administer the EWSS.
Revenue records from October 2021 show that 87.5% of ELC and SAC providers with a Tax Registration Number (TRN) reported to Pobal were in receipt of the EWSS. The remaining cohort of providers (12.5%) with a TRN reported to Pobal are not in receipt of the EWSS. These are expected to be sole traders with no employees and may also include a small number of providers who are no longer trading.
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.
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.