Government announces significant expansion of supports for businesses affected by the latest public health restrictions

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Government announces significant expansion of supports for businesses affected by the latest public health restrictions

The Government has agreed a number of changes to the major support schemes available to businesses affected by the latest public health restrictions which came into effect this week.

Changes will be made to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), and the tax debt warehousing scheme to expand the supports available to businesses affected.

EWSS

The EWSS will continue to apply to the vast majority of businesses affected by the recently updated restrictions, with a continuation of the enhanced rates as announced on 9 December.

In addition, the Government today agreed that the EWSS will re-open for certain businesses who would otherwise not be eligible and that such businesses can continue to be supported until the expiry of the scheme on 30 April 2022.

The new arrangements for EWSS will provide employers who have previously availed of EWSS but who are no longer eligible, with the opportunity to re-qualify for the scheme where they meet certain conditions.

Employers that qualify for re-entry to the scheme will receive support on a prospective basis from 1 January 2022 onwards, and they can remain in the scheme until its expiry date (30 April 2022).

CRSS

The public health restrictions currently in force, require nightclubs and discotheques to remain closed until 9 January 2022 and they are eligible to receive the CRSS.

Following the announcement of further restrictions on Friday 17 December, the Government have agreed that the CRSS will be made available to those businesses (hospitality and indoor entertainment) that have been significantly restricted from trading. Up to now, a business was required to close or significantly restrict access by customers to its premises to qualify for the Scheme.  This was agreed in recognition of the challenges facing these businesses.

The turnover reduction criteria will be increased from no more that 25% of 2019 turnover to no more that 40% of 2019 turnover, and new businesses established between 13 October 2020 and 26 July 2021 will now be eligible to apply for the scheme.
Currently any business established after 12 October 2020 is not eligible for CRSS. The

Government has now agreed to allow new businesses established between 13 October 2020 and 26 July 2021 to be eligible to apply for the scheme. 

Revenue has indicated that the scheme will be operational for the affected sectors this week. Further details for businesses will be set out in Revenue guidelines to be published shortly.

Tax debt warehousing

The Government also agreed to extend the tax debt warehousing scheme to allow the period where liabilities arising can be “warehoused” to the end of Q1 2022 for taxpayers eligible for the Covid-19 support schemes;  this means that interest free period for those taxpayers will now be 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD said:

Since the start of the pandemic we have aimed to minimise the loss of life, protect the health service and save as many jobs and businesses as possible. This new package will protect jobs and businesses adversely affected by the recent Covid restrictions.

“The EWSS will open to some new businesses and re-open to businesses which had been able to come off the subsidy but are now back in difficulty. The rules for the CRSS will be relaxed so that many more businesses, whose turnover is down due to Government regulations, can receive the payment. It will also be paid to affected business that decide to close because they can operate viably with restricted hours.  Separately, tax warehousing will be extended into the first quarter of 2022 which is another really important measure in terms of cash flow.

We’ve already extended the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to the end of January at the full rate to help pay the wages and encourage employers to keep people on the payroll. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has been reopened to new entrants and re-entrants who cannot work due to restrictions. We have introduced sectoral schemes for aviation, sporting bodies and the arts. We know these are really difficult times for many businesses, but as we approach the end of 2021, I want to thank Irish companies for co-operating with the public health advice, for keeping the public and their own staff safe, and for your perseverance in the face of a relentless pandemic.”

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD said:

The Government recognises that these restrictions come at a bad time for businesses in the hospitality sector and is putting changes in place that will provide supports equivalent to that which was in place during Level 5 restrictions earlier this year.

I intend that the legislative aspects associated with the revised arrangements for EWSS, CRSS and the tax debt warehousing scheme will be addressed by primary legislation in early 2022. In the meantime, the Revenue Commissioners have confirmed to me that they can operate the revised arrangements on an administrative basis pending the legislation.

The Government has always committed that there will be no cliff-edge to supports for businesses while accepting that such supports cannot continue indefinitely. The changes agreed today by Government will help the hospitality sector at a time when it is most vulnerable.”

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD said:

I fully recognise that the public health restrictions which have been put in place represent an enormous challenge for businesses and employees throughout the country.

This is a hugely important time of the year for the hospitality and entertainment sectors, and restrictions on their ability to trade in a normal way require a comprehensive response on the part of Government. I believe we have acted quickly and appropriately to assist businesses, and we are committed to continuing supports in line with the evolving public health situation.

It is vitally important for employers to maintain links with workers and we would urge them to keep the workers in employment wherever possible. I appreciate that these supports are not a substitute for normal activity but they will assist businesses to get through this difficult period and be in a position to benefit from the removal of restrictions at the earliest possible date.

Article Published: 22/12/2021