Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
I am sharing time with Deputy Barry. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March of last year, I have been advocating on behalf of two sectors that have been hit particularly hard - devastated - by the pandemic and pandemic measures. For the most part, they still remain excluded from the support schemes that have been set up. I requested that the Tánaiste meet with one of those groups, the taxi drivers, and he did so. They have explained their situation to him. Apart from a few weeks before Christmas, there is no work, or next to no work, out there for them. They are carrying costs of several hundred euro in insurance every week and several hundred euro, for the most part, in car repayments every month. They need assistance when there is no work out there for them. Many will exit the industry unless they get assistance. They have been excluded from the CRSS. They did not even get the restart grants and they are excluded from CBAS. Will the Tánaiste please give supports that will be made available to taxi drivers?
Regarding musicians and events and arts people who do not have premises, some musicians and events people are selling their equipment at the moment to sustain themselves. Their livelihoods literally are being destroyed. Again, they are being excluded because they do not have premises that are outward looking and instead are operating from a van or are paying off equipment they use. Will the Tánaiste please provide a scheme that will help them cover their fixed costs? They are being devastated.
Another small group of people I met, whom I know the Minister of State, Deputy English also met, are travel counsellors. The Government has an inward continuity business scheme for inward travel, but it does not extend to the travel counsellors because they organise travel going out of the country. However, they have fixed costs, for example, premium insurance, broadband, telephones and various other costs. I will not go through them. The costs add up to about €500 per week and they are still working but have no revenue at all coming in it because of Covid-19 restrictions. They ask that these schemes be made available to them or that there would be schemes to support them and cover those fixed costs.
Will the Government please help these people?