Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Department of Finance
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
90. To ask the Minister for Finance if a pub availing of Covid-19 related financial supports such as the employment wage subsidy scheme or Covid restrictions support scheme will still be eligible to avail of some supports following a partial reopening of the business (details supplied); the financial supports that will be available to pubs leading up to and following reopening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26829/21]
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is an economy-wide scheme that is open to all sectors. It focuses primarily on business eligibility, delivering a per-head subsidy on a flat rate basis to the employer. The objective of the EWSS is to support businesses, encourage employment and help to maintain the link between employers and employees. 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.
The EWSS “turnover test” has been specifically designed 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 primary employer qualification for the EWSS is based on the employer's turnover in the current six-month period being less, compared with the same pre-pandemic position period in 2019. The legislation provides that the employer must be able to demonstrate that it is operating at no more than 70% in either the turnover of business or the customer orders received by the employer by reference to the period from 1 January to 30 June 2021 compared with the equivalent period in 2019.
To answer the specific point raised in the Deputy's question, the turnover qualification requirement for EWSS applies regardless of whether the business is required to close fully or partially due to public health restrictions, or indeed if the business could remain open throughout the pandemic. The “turnover test” is the determining factor as regards eligibility for the EWSS and accordingly, the business must have suffered at least a 30% decrease in its turnover and this disruption is due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EWSS is designed to be flexible for the employer and take account of potentially sudden changes in turnover so if there is a reduction in turnover in the future because of a change in circumstance the employer may be entitled to make a claim for that later period.
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.
Details of CRSS were published 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.
The CRSS applies to businesses carrying on trading activities from a business premises located in a region subject to restrictions, which requires the business to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises and as a result, is operating at less than 25% of turnover in 2019.
With easing of restrictions in the coming weeks, the CRSS will remain available to any business still closed/restricted under public health guidelines. Any business which can fully reopen but chooses not to will not be eligible for the CRSS.
It will not be sufficient that the trade of a business has been impacted because of a reduction in customer demand as a consequence of Covid-19. 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.
A business that can partially reopen, for example a pub or restaurant which is permitted to open for outdoor dining only, can still avail of CRSS once they do not exceed 25% threshold for eligibility (25% of an amount equal to the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 or average weekly turnover in 2020 in the case of a new business).
Any business currently availing of CRSS and that can now reopen as restrictions are eased will be able to avail of double restart week payments for two weeks subject to the statutory maximum of €5,000 per week to support them in meeting the costs of reopening as they exit the scheme.
Detailed guidelines on the operation of the CRSS are available on the Revenue website.
The CRSS is an additional measure for businesses in a region subject to significant Covid-19 restrictions. Businesses not falling within the scope of the CRSS may be entitled to support under other measures put in place by Government, including the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). Businesses may also be eligible to warehouse VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts and also excess payments received by employers under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the balance of Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020 for self-assessed taxpayers if applicable.
The Dáil has recently approved the extension of both the EWSS and the CRSS until the end of June 2021. Consideration is being given to the fact that continued support for businesses could be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable enterprises and employment and to provide firms 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 my Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate these effects.