Thursday, 20 January 2022
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
22. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he remains satisfied that adequate measures have been taken in respect of public expenditure and reform to withstand the ongoing impact of Covid-19; if supports for vulnerable sectors will continue in the face of rising Covid-19 infections and the impact this has on several areas of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1969/22]
Significant direct expenditure supports have been put in place by Government since early 2020 to respond to the impacts of Covid-19. This funding has been critical in supporting our people and businesses impacted by the pandemic and in providing the necessary funding to allow our key public services respond effectively to the crisis. Some €30 billion in additional funding was made available to Departments across 2020 and 2021 for measures related to Covid-19 with provision for up to €7 billion made under Budget 2022. This funding has supported the delivery of key public services while addressing the challenges of Covid-19 and has provided for critical income and employment supports to our workers and businesses, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS).
Key measures have been extended as necessary since the beginning of the pandemic in order to continue essential support, most recently in response to the impact of the Omicron wave where a number of further measures were agreed by Government including for the EWSS and PUP schemes and measures for particularly impacted sectors.
The careful phased withdrawal of Covid-19 supports is essential both to support society and the economy to recover from the impact of Covid-19, and to return our public finances to a sustainable position. In this context, with the phased withdrawal of supports, it will be important to target measures at those sectors of the economy most affected by the pandemic.
Of the €7 billion available for Covid-19 related measures in 2022, €3.1 billion has already been allocated to Departments, including for projects funded under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, while €3.9 billion remains held in reserve. This contingency reserve provides Government with the flexibility to respond to the pandemic during 2022 and will be allocated as needed during the year to specific expenditure measures that can be most effective at that particular time.