Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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237. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to support small and medium businesses that cannot trade due to Covid-19 and are unable to meet their rental liabilities on their premises; her plans to introduce a pause on commercial rents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30660/20]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The Government has introduced a broad range of measures and supports to respond to the needs of businesses that are experiencing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular I am strongly supportive of the efforts being made by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to assist businesses. Some of the key supports announced as part of the Budget are:

- VAT rate reduction from 13.5% to 9% from 1st of November 2020, in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing the Hospitality and Tourism sector.

- Extension of the commercial rates holiday, which will reduce costs for businesses.

- New Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), will offer a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions imposed on them in response to Covid-19.

- Extension of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme through 2021, should it be required.

- Illness benefit will be available on Day 3 of illness, rather than Day 6.

- The €3.4bn Recovery Fund will give us the firepower we need to protect jobs.

- €10.1bn infrastructure spending in 2021, the largest ever, ensuring there is work for the construction sector and we continue to deliver homes, schools and public transport.

- For the self-employed, increasing Earned Income Credit up to €1,650 – the same as the employee tax credit for PAYE workers – from this year, as well as fact that self-employed taxpayers will be able to warehouse their 2020 preliminary tax liability, will bring immediate relief.

On 1 October, the Government published a new voluntary Code of Conduct between Landlords and Tenants for Commercial Rents. The Code, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government, has been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including IBEC, Retail Excellence Ireland, Chambers Ireland and Irish Institutional Property. It is based on an approach taken in other jurisdictions, including Australia, France and the UK.

The Code sets out how the relevant parties can work together to get through these uncertain times. Landlords should be willing to do what they can to help their tenants to continue to operate rather than facing the risk of a vacant premises and inability to obtain new tenants. Equally, tenants should pay what they can and speak with their landlord when difficulties arise.

The Code can be found here:

Where commercial rents are concerned, this area of the law is very complex and characterized by a multiplicity of contractual arrangements that reflect the diversity of the landlord and tenant relationship in the commercial sphere. I urge all parties to commercial leases to show forbearance and understanding during this very difficult time.

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