Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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40. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment his plans to support taxi drivers. [30553/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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As part of Budget 2021, my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport Eamon Ryan TD is introducing a number of specific measures for the taxi and hackney businesses. The Minister is providing the necessary 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 zero-emission capable electric alternatives. The scrappage scheme will be open for taxis and hackneys reaching their maximum permissible age limit in 2020/21. 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.

The roll-out of dedicated EV Taxi Recharging Points will also be stepped up to support the transition of this key sector, helping to encourage the wider vehicle transition and supporting cleaner air in our cities and towns.

The Government introduced the July Stimulus €7bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, 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 SMEs to assist with restructuring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full details on all COVID-19 supports for business are available on the Department website.

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. Repayments will commence in month 7 for the remaining period of your loan.

My colleague, Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Social Protection, recently opened applications for the newly revamped Enterprise Support Grant, this is 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, worth up to €1,000 per person, 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.

I continue to work with my colleagues across Government to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19 to adapt to the changing business landscape. The package of supports announced by Government as part of Budget 2021 earlier this week is testament to our commitment to supporting vulnerable but viable businesses in all sectors of the economy. I continue to keep the supports provided for enterprise under review with the goal of setting our country towards economic recovery.

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