Written answers

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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76. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which the public sector equality and human rights duty will be reflected in the July stimulus package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18271/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty - public bodies’ statutory duty to eliminate discrimination, promote equality, and protect human rights of staff and service users - is the responsibility of all Departments and other public bodies individually.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on communities, businesses, families and individuals across the country. The priority of the Government remains the wellbeing of our people and communities and repairing the damage wrought on the economy – and keeping the virus contained – is vital for the wellbeing of our people.

As such, the July Stimulus package is the next step in our national recovery effort and will build on the very significant Exchequer funding, through wage subsidies, the PUP, grants for businesses, low cost loans and commercial rates waivers during the crisis.

The commitments within the July Stimulus are designed to do four things:

-Back our businesses

- Help our people, especially our young people, get back to work

- Build confidence and invest in our communities

- Prepare Ireland for the Economy of the Future

The National Economic Plan, to be developed in parallel with the next Budget, will be the next step in our recovery journey and I expect it will set out a range of actions across Government to support economic recovery over the coming years.

In addition to this, over the next five years, this Government, through commitments in the new Programme for Government, will seek to deliver a better quality of life for all, equality within society and a deeper sense of connection to the natural world around us, and each other. The Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty will have an important role to play in this.

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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77. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which the commitment to gender and equality proofing will be reflected in the July stimulus package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18272/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, while gender and equality are important to the work of all Departments, my colleague, Minister Roderic O’Gorman T.D., will have responsibility for policy in this area going forward following the transfer of functions from the Department of Justice and Equality to the new Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration.

However, I can inform the Deputy that the Programme for Government acknowledges that some of the biggest challenges we are facing include achieving social solidarity and equality of opportunity, reaching ecological harmony and economic equity and embracing our cultural diversity. Over the course of the next five years, this Government will take steps to develop the strategies and the policies required to achieve this. At the heart of all of this will, of course, be creating new jobs, preparing for the jobs of the future, driving our economic recovery, and improving the quality of life for all our people.

Significant Exchequer support, through wage subsidies, the PUP, grants for businesses, low cost loans and commercial rates waivers. The July Stimulus is the next step in our recovery. We have listened to businesses and responded with a package of scale and speed to meet their most immediate needs. The July Stimulus is designed to stimulate a jobs-led recovery and build economic confidence while continuing to manage the impact of Covid-19. It backs businesses and workers so that together we can return to prosperity and growth.

The full list of actions within the July Stimulus and how to avail of them can be found at www.gov.ie/jobsstimulus.

Government analysis, that is available online, showed that the most-heavily impacted sectors are accommodation and food, construction, administrative and support services, wholesale and retail trade, and other personal services. Evidence for this includes the numbers of employees in these sectors availing of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and Pandemic Unemployment Payment. A number of these sectors have pay levels below average and employ a high share of women and young people. 

Moreover, Ireland is not alone in this. Recent international research from Eurofound, the OECD and the IMF have come to similar conclusions highlighting that women have been more adversely affected than man by the crisis and that the risk of young workers (up to age 35) being the victim of new economic fallout is very high.  

I expect the measures in the July Stimulus package will particularly help these sectors thus offsetting the impacts on inequality resulting from the crisis.

The July Stimulus will be followed in October by the National Economic Plan, our longer-term economic roadmap, to be published alongside the next Budget.

Careful consideration will need to be given to gender and equality during the recovery as I know different people have been impacted in different ways by the crisis. This will require a whole-of-Government effort.

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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78. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will review a case (details supplied); his plans to include travel agents in the July stimulus package; if he will provide details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18510/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Repairing the damage wrought on the economy – and keeping the Covid-19 virus contained – is vital for the wellbeing of our people. As such, the July Stimulus package is the next step in our national recovery story. It is designed to help businesses which have not reopened yet and those struggling to do so. We have listened to businesses and responded with a package of scale and speed to meet their most immediate needs. Our main objective is to save jobs and create new ones.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on communities, businesses, families and individuals across the country. The priority of the Government remains the wellbeing of our people and communities. We are now increasing our focus on business and on getting as many people as possible back to work.

Travel agents, as well as other businesses, will be able to benefit from many aspects of the July Stimulus including:

- A new Employment Wage Support Scheme that will succeed the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and run until April 2021;

- An enhanced Restart Grant for Enterprises that will be open to more businesses with the maximum amount available increasing to €25,000 and the minimum payment doubled to €4,000. Businesses that have already accessed the Restart Grant will be eligible to apply for a top up payment;

- A waiver of commercial rates for the six months to end-Sept 2020;

- The €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme that will see Government provide an 80% guarantee for a wide range of credit products from €10,000 up to €1 million up to a maximum term of 6 years;

- A package of liquidity and enterprise investment measures to help small and micro companies through additional resources for MicroFinance Ireland (MFI) and the Local Enterprise Offices including reduced interest rates on lending for micro and small businesses.

- To provide immediate cash-flow support to previously profitable companies, the early carryback of trading losses will be allowed, leading to an immediate refund of some or all of corporation tax paid;

- There will be a 6-month reduction in the standard rate of VAT from 23% to 21%, effective from the beginning of September;

- Businesses affected by Covid-19 will be able to delay payment of their PAYE and VAT debts in part of in full for a set period with no interest or penalties;

- The interest rate applying to agreed repayments of all tax debt (where agreement has been reached prior to 30 September 2020) will be reduced to 3%; and

- Businesses will also be supported to develop their online presence through a further funding call of the Online Retail Scheme of €5.5 million through Enterprise Ireland and an expansion of the Online Trading Voucher Scheme from the Local Enterprise Offices of €20 million.

Further information on these, along with the full list of actions within the July Stimulus and how to avail of them can be found at www.gov.ie/jobsstimulus.

I have underlined that in developing the stimulus package, we must look ahead to ensuring economic recovery. The National Economic Plan, to be developed in parallel with the next Budget, will be crucial in this respect. It will go beyond the issue of business supports and set out a range of actions to be developed across Government to realise economic recovery.

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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79. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will review correspondence and outline the measures being put in place as part of the July stimulus package to assist a business sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18514/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on communities, businesses, families and individuals across the country. The priority of the Government remains the wellbeing of our people and communities. We are now increasing our focus on business and on getting as many people as possible back to work.

The Jobs Stimulus will help get Ireland’s businesses back on their feet and get as many people as possible back to work quickly. It is the next stage in Ireland’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, building on the extensive enterprise and labour supports already deployed. The Jobs Stimulus will build economic confidence, within public health constraints, and deliver immediate effective supports to get people back to work.

Businesses, including those in the those in the tourism and hospitality sector will be able to benefit from many of the actions within the July Stimulus including:

-A new Employment Wage Support Scheme that will succeed the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and run until April 2021;

- An enhanced Restart Grant for Enterprises that will be open to more businesses with the maximum amount available increasing to €25,000 and the minimum payment doubled to €4,000. Businesses that have already accessed the Restart Grant will be eligible to apply for a top up payment. Some businesses not previously included in the scheme, such as B&Bs, will now be eligible.;

- A waiver of commercial rates for the six months to end-Sept 2020;

- The €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme that will see Government provide an 80% guarantee for a wide range of credit products from €10,000 up to €1 million up to a maximum term of 6 years;

- A package of liquidity and enterprise investment measures to help small and micro companies through additional resources for MicroFinance Ireland (MFI) and the Local Enterprise Offices including reduced interest rates on lending for micro and small businesses.

- To provide immediate cash-flow support to previously profitable companies, the early carryback of trading losses will be allowed, leading to an immediate refund of some or all of corporation tax paid;

- There will be a 6-month reduction in the standard rate of VAT from 23% to 21%, effective from the beginning of September;

- Businesses affected by Covid-19 will be able to delay payment of their PAYE and VAT debts in part of in full for a set period with no interest or penalties; and

- The interest rate applying to agreed repayments of all tax debt (where agreement has been reached prior to 30 September 2020) will be reduced to 3%.

In addition to the above, and to specifically support the badly impacted hospitality and tourism sectors, a new Stay and Spend Incentive will see any taxpayer spending over €625 on accommodation, food and non-alcoholic drinks, between October 2020 and April 2021, able to claim back €125 through a tax credit. A €10 million Restart Fund for the Tourism sector is also being introduced.

Further information on these, along with the full list of actions within the July Stimulus and how to avail of them can be found at www.gov.ie/jobsstimulus.

I have underlined that in developing the stimulus package, we must look ahead to ensuring economic recovery. The National Economic Plan, to be developed in parallel with the next Budget, will be crucial in this respect. It will go beyond the issue of business supports and set out a range of actions to be developed across Government to realise economic recovery.

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