Written answers

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Department of Finance

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of John Paul PhelanJohn Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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56. To ask the Minister for Finance if the CRSS will be extended beyond 31 March 2021 if Covid restrictions remain in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7490/21]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan.

Details of CRSS are set out in Finance Act 2020 and detailed operational guidelines, which are based on the terms and conditions of the scheme as set out in the legislation, have been published on the Revenue website at:

The CRSS is just one of the Government’s supports to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses who are not eligible for CRSS may be entitled to alternative supports put in place by the Government, including the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. Businesses may also be eligibleunder the Debt Warehousing Scheme to ‘park’ certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities, excess payments received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), outstanding balances of self-assessed Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020.

The legislation provides that the Scheme will run to 31 March 2021 but may be extended by Ministerial Order (subject to Dáil approval) but not later than 31 December 2021.

I will continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and in the coming weeks a further assessment will be made, in accordance with the legislation, with a view to determining whether to extend the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme beyond the statutory end date of 31 March 2021.

Photo of John Paul PhelanJohn Paul Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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57. To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the stay and spend scheme into 2021 to support the hospitality sector once Covid restrictions are lifted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7507/21]

Photo of Noel GrealishNoel Grealish (Galway West, Independent)
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65. To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the largely unused stay and spend scheme to include takeaway food services from restaurants and businesses that are already registered providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7504/21]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 65 together.

The purpose of the Stay and Spend scheme is to provide targeted support to businesses within the hospitality sector whose operations are likely to be most affected by continued restrictions on public health grounds.

In relation to take-aways, food and drink service providers that operate on a take-away basis are not likely to be as heavily affected by the current restrictions as service providers offering ‘dine-in’ food and drink services and so do not fall within the particular objectives of the scheme.

The Stay and Spend scheme was developed at a time when there appeared to be a steady downward trend in infection rates, and there was an expectation that the re-opening of the economy could be sustained uninterrupted. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and, thus far, with the exception of some short periods, public health restrictions have had the effect of impeding the operation of the incentive as originally envisaged. Stay and Spend is scheduled to operate until 30 April but the flexibility exists for me to extend its operation in 2021 beyond that date (to end 2021). It is too early as yet to take definitive decisions in that regard. Much will depend on how circumstances unfold in the months ahead. As I have said before, I will keep an eye on how matters develop and the role that the scheme might play and consider if any changes need to be made.

Finally, it is important also to recall that Stay and Spend should not be viewed in isolation from the other measures put in place to support businesses generally and the hospitality sector in particular.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing the Hospitality and Tourism sector, the VAT rate was reduced from 13.5% to 9 % from 1 November 2020. This is a temporary measure to provide support to the sector, where many businesses remain closed for now and those that are open are operating at significantly reduced capacity, and will apply from 1 November 2020 to 31 December 2021.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) has been a key component of the Government’s response to the continued COVID-19 crisis to support viable firms and encourage employment in the hospitality and tourism sector and beyond. I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS.

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with COVID-19 Plan.

Businesses may also be eligible under the Debt Warehousing Scheme to ‘park’ certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities, excess payments received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), outstanding balances of self-assessed Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020.

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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58. To ask the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that businesses such as marketing agencies that operate in settings such as colleges and universities are currently not eligible for support under the Covid restrictions support scheme; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that although these companies' premises are not technically closed to the public, the locations in which they operate are significantly affected by Covid-19 restrictions, which has resulted in a substantial decline in revenue turnover; if the impact on these businesses will be examined with a view to extending the scheme to them to sustain them until students return to campus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7578/21]

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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59. To ask the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to including travel counsellors as those who qualify for access to the Covid restrictions support scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7641/21]

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry, Fine Gael)
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71. To ask the Minister for Finance if financial supports will be provided to travel agents (details supplied) that are not eligible for the Covid restrictions support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7658/21]

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry, Fine Gael)
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72. To ask the Minister for Finance if further financial supports will be provided to businesses that were supplying businesses in the hospitality sector that are closed and are unable to qualify for the Covid restrictions support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7663/21]

Joe Flaherty (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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74. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will examine supports for the coach and transport sector (details supplied). [7690/21]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 59, 71, 72 and 74 together.

The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The support is available to companies, self-employed individuals and partnerships who carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D, from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Living with Covid-19 Plan.

Details of CRSS are set out in Finance Act 2020 and detailed operational guidelines, which are based on the terms and conditions of the scheme as set out in the legislation, have been published on the Revenue website at .

To qualify under the scheme a business must, under specific terms of the Covid restrictions, be required to either prohibit or significantly restrict, customers from accessing their business premises to acquire goods or services, with the result that the business either has to temporarily close or to operate at a significantly reduced level. For the purposes of CRSS, a qualifying “business premises” is a building or other similar fixed physical structure in which a business activity is ordinarily carried on.

A self-employed travel agent providing services from a home office, which is not customer-facing, will not meet the eligibility criteria.

Where a business does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises such as a coach operator, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria for CRSS. A fund of €10 million (Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme) was put in place by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to support the coach tourism sector.

It is not sufficient that the trade of a business has been impacted because of a reduction in customer demand as a consequence of Covid-19 such as college marketing businesses. The scheme only applies where, as a direct result of the specific terms of the Government restrictions, the business is required to either prohibit or significantly restrict access to its business premises.

Where a business supplies goods or services to businesses in the hospitality industry which, under the specific terms of the Covid restrictions, are required to prohibit or significantly restrict customers from accessing their business premises, it will not result in the supplier business being eligible to make a claim under CRSS. Each business must meet the qualification criteria in their own right.

I have no plans to change the eligibility criteria for the CRSS. The CRSS is just one of the Government’s supports to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses who are not eligible for CRSS may be entitled to alternative supports put in place by the Government, including the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. Businesses may also be eligible under the Debt Warehousing Scheme to ‘park’ certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) liabilities, excess payments received under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), outstanding balances of self-assessed Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020.

I continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. In this regard, Deputies may wish to note that earlier this week, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment announced a new €60m COVID-19 Business Aid Scheme (CBAS), which is being developed to assist businesses who are ineligible for the Government’s other existing schemes.

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