Written answers

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Department of Finance

Wage Subsidy Scheme

Photo of Marian HarkinMarian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent)
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29. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will consider extending the employment wage subsidy scheme until at least the end of 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22415/21]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The objective of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is to support all employment and maintain the link between the employer and employee insofar as is possible. The 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 midst of these very challenging times. As of the week ending 23 April 2021, payments of over €2.8 billion and PRSI credit of over €467 million have been granted to 48,600 employers in respect of almost 552,000 workers.

I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS and, as the Deputy will be aware from announcements made on Tuesday 23 February, it has been decided that the scheme is now to be extended until the end of June 2021. Similarly, the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme has also been extended to end June 2021.

Motions seeking the approval of Dáil Éireann for the extension of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to 30 June 2021 were debated in the House on Thursday 22 April, during which I reaffirmed the Government’s commitment that there would be no cliff-edge end to the economic supports at the end of June.

With the agreement by Government on the revised plan, COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead, a cautious and measured approach will be taken as we lay the foundations for the full recovery of social life, public services and the economy. It is therefore appropriate that key business supports should remain in place until the end of June 2021.

As the revised plan is implemented, the EWSS will play an important role in getting people back to work as public health restrictions are eased, thereby reducing the numbers dependent on social welfare payments over time, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Consideration is being given to the fact that continued support could be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable businesses and employment and to provide businesses with certainty to the maximum extent possible. Decisions on the form of such support will take account of emerging circumstances and economic conditions as they become clearer.

The Government will continue to assess the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and I will continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate these effects.

For those businesses who may need additional support during this period, 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.

The Government remains fully committed to supporting businesses and employers insofar as is possible at this time.

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