Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Finance

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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60. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will review the employment wage subsidy scheme for independent local radio stations that are not eligible presently and for which advertising turnover has fallen by 20% due Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37281/20]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been deliberately designed as an economy wide enterprise support that is open to all sectors on the basis of a turnover test that can be applied across the whole economy while at the same time remain targeted at employers who are considered to be most in need of support.

The EWSS turnover test has been specifically calibrated so as to target the subsidy at otherwise viable employers whose businesses continue to be adversely impacted by COVID-19 by requiring a comparison of the firm’s pre-pandemic operations with their current operations.   The legislation provides that the employer must be able to demonstrate that they are operating at no more than 70% in either the turnover of the employer’s business or the customer orders received by the employer by reference to the period from July to December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. 

There is additional flexibility in the application of the turnover test to allow employers to take account of potentially sudden changes in turnover on a month-to-month “opt-in/opt-out” basis.  Under the legislation, an employer is required to carry out a review of their turnover each month and confirm that they are still eligible for the scheme.  At the same time, there is no cut-off deadline for access to the scheme, so if there is a reduction in turnover later in 2020 because of an unexpected reduction in business activity or a sudden change in business circumstances the employer may be entitled to make a claim for that future period. 

I am satisfied that the EWSS already contains sufficient flexibility to take account of changes in business circumstances and is targeted at employers across all sectors who are most in need of support. 

For those who may not be eligible for the EWSS, I would draw attention to the comprehensive package of other business and employer supports that have been made available since the July Stimulus Plan and Budget 2021 - including the Covid Restriction Support Scheme (CRSS), the Credit Guarantee Scheme, the SBCI Working Capital Scheme, Sustaining Enterprise Fund, and the Covid-19 Business Loans Scheme.

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