Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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39. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will meet individually with representatives of restaurants and pubs regarding the impact of Covid-19 and the public health restrictions on the pub and restaurant sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30163/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I meet with the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Licensed Vintners Association and the Restaurants Association of Ireland on an ongoing basis through the Hospitality and Tourism Forum, which I jointly chair with Minister Catherine Martin. The forum met again yesterday to discuss the reopening of the economy and the Economic Recovery Plan.

At each point of closing or re-opening of the economy due to COVID-19 I have met with a group of relevant stakeholders, including these three associations, to update them on latest Government developments and answer questions.

Minister Donohoe, Minister Martin and I met with the LVI, the VFI, the Restaurants Association and the Irish Hotels Federation on 15 January.

I am open to meeting with the associations individually if such a meeting is requested.

The Government announced a new Economic Recovery Plan this week, with €4 billion of stimulus to fuel the economy and help businesses to recover and rebuild. Across 2020 and 2021, €38 billion was provided to help weather the pandemic.

There will be a number of changes to the current financial supports as public health restrictions unwind.

- The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will remain in place for businesses that have to stay closed. For businesses re-opening in June and July, you will receive a double payment for the first three weeks upon reopening up to a maximum of €30,000. This will help firms with cashflow and to restock and re-engage with staff.

- The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is being extended until the end of 2021. Some adjustments are being made to how it is calculated - it will now be based on your business’ earnings for a full 12-month period relative to 2019, rather than six months to ensure businesses and workers are supported through the earlier part of the recovery.

- The commercial rates waiver will continue in its current form during the third quarter of this year for those availing of it.

- The 9% VAT rate will be extended until the 1 September, 2022.

- Tax warehousing is being extended until the end of the year and will be interest free in 2022.

- The Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be closed for new entrants from 1 July of this year and will be gradually phased out from 7 September, so that by early 2022 it will be back in line with the Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Further information on each of these changes on the gov.iewebsite.

- We will use €950m in EU Recovery grants to fund additional investment in higher and further education, skills, research, the digital transformation and climate action, like retrofitting homes and commuter rail. There will be a special fund of €85m to help enterprises decarbonise and €55m to help businesses to go digital. Details on this will be made available in the coming months.

- A new additional, more streamlined business support scheme, the Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS) will be introduced in September 2021 for businesses with very significantly reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions. This will be open to business with and without a rateable premises and will be administered by Revenue in a similar way to the CRSS. Businesses who previously availed of other schemes such as the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC)and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme for example, as well as CRSS will be eligible to apply provided they meet the qualifying criteria. Details on this scheme will be announced closer to the time, but the Government will continue to help those businesses that are particularly challenged through to the end of the year and beyond if needed.

We are committed to the economic recovery of the country and work is ongoing across Government to ensure the supports which will be in place are sufficient, targeted and sustainable. The National Recovery Plan charts the pathway forward for our country.

My colleague, Minister Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, may be able to provide more specific details on these supports for the hospitality sector, for which she has lead responsibility.

Photo of Jackie CahillJackie Cahill (Tipperary, Fianna Fail)
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40. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of his plans to support the hospitality sector in advance of and following the reopening of the sector in early June 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30026/21]

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)
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The financial support the Government is providing small businesses and workers affected by the pandemic is unprecedented. These supports include the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy (EWSS). Support for business includes the weekly Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) of payment for businesses forced to close their doors to the public, the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC), the lower Tourism VAT rate of 9% further extended to September 2022, a commercial rates waiver extended in its current form for another three months, the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme as well as low-cost loans. Information on the wide range of supports can be found on my Department’s website .

Government is in no doubt how important the COVID supports such as the EWSS and CRSS have been to businesses and the role played by grant schemes such as the Restart Grants, SBASC and the various sectoral supports administered by relevant Departments.

The CRSS has provided vital support to businesses that have been forced to close or restrict access to their premises on foot of public health regulations. The CRSS has been extended until the end of 2021 and enhanced with a significantly higher restart payment – three weeks at double rate of payment (to a maximum of €30,000).

Further targeted supports have also been introduced including a new additional Business Resumption Support Scheme from September for businesses with significantly reduced turnover.

I am acutely aware of the difficulties SME's continue to face due to this pandemic and that is why I have expanded the SBASC scheme which will now take into account businesses who do not pay rates and also businesses that have a turnover below €50,000. Phase 2 of this scheme will be open for applications in early June, with a closing date of 21st July. Further details of the scheme including all eligibility criteria will shortly be available on my Department's website www.enterprise.gov.ie and on Local Authority websites.

We are committed to the economic recovery of the country and work is ongoing across Government to ensure the supports which will be in place are sufficient, targeted and sustainable. The National Recovery Plan will chart the pathway forward for our country.

My colleague, Minister Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, may be able to provide more specific details on these supports for the hospitality sector, for which she has lead responsibility.

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