Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Departmental Schemes

Paul McAuliffe (Dublin North West, Fianna Fail)
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17. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment his plans for allowing taxi drivers and other self-employed persons access more support schemes similar to other SMEs from which they are currently excluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29973/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Budget 2021 is a pro-business and pro-jobs Budget aimed at building on what we put in place in the July Stimulus, to help the self-employed, business owners and employees through this exceptionally difficult time.

As part of Budget 2021, my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport Eamon Ryan TD is introducing specific measures for taxi and hackney businesses. The Minister is providing funding to the National Transport Authority to enable it to waive annual vehicle licence renewal fees for 2021.

In addition, as part of Budget 2021 Minister Ryan is allocating €15 million to support up to 750 taxi and hackney drivers in scrapping their older vehicles and replacing them with zero-emission capable electric alternatives. Up to €20,000 will be made available for eligible drivers switching to a new all-electric vehicle and up to €32,500 for those moving to a wheel chair accessible full electric vehicle.

Budget 2021 also provides a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help self-employed and vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. We are providing for an extension of the tax warehousing scheme to include repayments of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme funds owed by employers and preliminary tax obligations for the adversely affected self-employed.

So as to ensure that all self-employed taxpayers can benefit from the losses provision introduced in the July Stimulus, we are also providing that debt warehousing provisions be extended to include the 2019 balance and 2020 preliminary tax to allow such taxpayers to defer payment for a period of a year with no interest applying.

As part of Budget 2021 the Minister for Finance is also delivering on the commitment in the Programme for Government commitment to equalise the Earned Income Credit with the PAYE credit by raising it by €150 to €1,650.

These measures are in addition to the July Stimulus €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme which we are extending through 2021, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst self-employed.

COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first 6 months and the equivalent of an additional 6 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loans can range from €5,000 to €25,000.

My colleague, Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Social Protection, recently opened applications for the newly revamped Enterprise Support Grant of up to €1,000 designed to assist self-employed recipients who are exiting the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, as they get back on their feet following COVID-19. This grant is aimed at sole traders such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, taxi drivers and so on, who do not pay commercial rates and therefore do not qualify for the government’s Restart Grant Plus Scheme.

Taxi drivers in receipt of the PUP can earn up to €480/month and retain their payment.

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