Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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236. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the level of funding remaining and unallocated in the Covid-19 contingency reserve for 2022; and the amount that has been allocated disaggregated by policy measure and Department. [17188/22]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Some €4 billion in funding was held in reserve in Budget 2022 to be allocated, if needed, for additional Covid-19 related measures that might be required in 2022. In the Revised Estimates for Public Services (REV) 2022 in December, given the ongoing effects of the pandemic, a number of further targeted supports totalling €96 million were provided to Departments in respect of Covid-19, bringing the funding remaining in the Covid-19 related reserve funds to just over €3.9 billion.

These allocations comprised €10 million to the Department of Transport for a support scheme for travel agents; €10 million to the Department of Social Protection in respect of the Covid mitigation redundancy and insolvency scheme; €25 million to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media for additional supports to the Live Entertainment sector in response to further Covid related restrictions for that sector and €51 million to Department of Education in relation to Covid-19 measures in term 2 of the 2021/2022 school year.

The remaining reserve provision includes amounts earmarked for the Departments of Health and Education (€0.2bn) and for labour market impacts as Covid-19 related income and support schemes are unwound (€0.9bn). Given the additional expenditure pressures as a result of the Omicron wave, the Health and Education funding is currently expected to be required in full. Costs incurred on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and Covid-19 Illness Benefit to date are currently in excess of the REV provision for these schemes and a further allocation to the Department of Social Protection may be required in respect of these later this year. Further Covid-19 related allocations to Departments may also be needed to meet the cost of the Quarter 1 Commercial Rates Waiver, the health staff recognition payment and for the costs of antiviral drugs.

These measures, together with the expenditure package agreed to support citizens with energy costs, mean that approximately €1½ billion of this reserve is in effect committed. While there is potential for some of these costs to be met from underspends in other areas, if the full amounts fall to be met from the reserve funds this would leave a remaining balance of some €2½ billion. There may be further Covid-19 related spending requirements during 2022 which would need to be met from this reserve as Covid-19 related employment support schemes are unwound and depending on the position with the virus later in the year.


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