Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
174. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on the restart grant and restart grant plus; if all funding has at this point been paid out; the details of same by county in tabular form; his plans to launch a similar scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43955/20]
The Restart Grant and Restart Grant Plus schemes were designed to help small and medium sized businesses get back on their feet after what has been an exceptionally difficult time.
The purpose of the schemes was to help with the cost of reopening or adapting business premises so that normal business could resume. Grant payments were administered by the Local Authorities via the commercial rates system as this was considered the most effective means to get urgent financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. All necessary funding has been disbursed to the Local Authorities who continue to process outstanding applications.
The Restart Grant Plus scheme closed to new applications on 31 October and the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) operated by the Revenue Commissioners is now in place. Accordingly, there are currently no plans to introduce a similar scheme.
In total, over 118,600 applications have been managed under both Restart schemes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 31 local authorities and the Local Government Management Agency for the efficiency with which they have managed applications under both schemes.
I have set out separately in tabular form the information requested by the Deputy as at 11 December 2020.
">Grants by county
The pandemic has caused untold damage to people's lives and livelihoods. I know that many SMEs have been severely impacted by the restrictions needed to ensure public health safety during the pandemic.
The Government has provided a comprehensive range of enterprise measures to support businesses at this difficult time. These include the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. A full list of supports are on the Department of Enterprise website.
The Employment Wage Support Scheme was announced as part of Budget 2021 and is an economy wide support that provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers. Changes have also been made to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the EWSS, increasing the top rate to €350 for those who were earning in excess of €400 per week.
The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys T.D., recently announced the doubling of the PUP threshold from the current €480 over four weeks to €960 over an eight-week period effective immediately. This will help people to restart their businesses and allow self-employed people to take on intermittent jobs without losing their entitlement.
The COVID Restrictions Support Scheme, operated by the Revenue Commission, was introduced in Budget 2021. It offers a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels due to COVID-19 of up to €5,000 per week.
I will continue to work with my colleagues to identify practical actions to help businesses build resilience and live with the virus over the coming year.