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Just under €80 million paid out so far on scheme for businesses forced to close during Level 5

The CRSS pays out up to €5,000 a week to businesses forced to shut due to Covid-19 restrictions.

THE GOVERNMENT SCHEME providing a cash sum to businesses forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions has paid out €79.3 million to 13,800 premises so far. 

Under the scheme, businesses can make a claim up to €5,000 a week from Revenue but just 3% of premises are receiving the maximum amount. 

So far, 20% of the claimants have been from wet pubs, 12% from cafés or restaurants and 21% from personal services such as hairdressers and beauticians.

However, hairdressers and beauticians only account for 6% of the €79 million paid out so far compared to 12% for wet pubs.

paid out The figures paid to premises in each county under the scheme. Source: Revenue

The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) was announced by the government as part of Budget 2021 on 13 October.

It is a cashflow support scheme aimed at businesses that have had to close or restrict access to customers under enhanced restrictions. A week after the scheme was announced, Ireland was put under Level 5 of restrictions, forcing thousands of businesses to again shut their doors. 

A business that had suffered an 80% decline in turnover – calculated with reference to its 2019 turnover – during the period of closure was eligible to apply.

Only businesses with an annual turnover of less than €2 million were eligible for the scheme, with eligible firms entitled to 10% on the first €1 million in turnover and 5% on anything above that to a maximum value of €5,000.

Once it has been paid out, the money can be used to pay rent and any other business-associated costs.

Upon its announcement, Tánaiste and Minister for Business Leo Varadkar said that qualification for the scheme is based on self-assessment but that “there will be audits”.

“It’s self-assessed, so we’re putting a lot of faith in business people to tell us the truth about their position. It’s self-assessed, but there will be audits obviously after the fact,” he said.

The move was welcomed from business groups such as the Vintners Federation of Ireland, whose members have been shut for large swathes of this year to date. 

However, the scope of the scheme has also been criticised by the opposition.

Last month, Sinn Féin enterprise spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said that the “narrow nature” of the scheme meant suppliers, event management companies, taxi drivers and many others would “fall through the cracks with the scheme”. 

“The Tánaiste has agreed to look at some of the individual cases I raised with him, but wider reform of the scheme is needed to immediately expand the CRSS to ensure it delivers for as many suffering businesses as possible,” she said.

According to Revenue, which administers the scheme, it said that “starting from 17 November, an eligible business if registered with Revenue for CRSS and who carries on a business activity from a premise located in a region that is subject to Covid-19 related restrictions, can make a claim for payment under the CRSS”.

By county, Dublin had the largest number of premises making claims under the scheme with 2,720 of the 13,800 to date. So far, €26 million has been given to businesses in Dublin under the CRSS.

Next was Cork with 1,710 claimants receiving €8.7 million so far with 950 businesses in Kerry receiving €5 million. 

The average period they’ve been claiming the CRSS is six weeks, corresponding to the six weeks of Level 5 restrictions. 

The majority of businesses (69%) are receiving an average weekly payment of €999 or less. 

A further 14% are receiving between €1,000-€1,999. 

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Revenue also provided the average weekly payment by sector:

  • Personal services, such as hairdressing – €260
  • Wet pubs – €570
  • Café, restaurant – €1,270
  • Bars that serve food – €1,750
  • Retail specialist store – €930
  • Hotels and accommodation – €2,290
  • Other sectors – €1,550

The average payment under the scheme is around €1,000.

On Thursday, the Tánaiste said that all businesses re-opening this week would receive an extra week of the CRSS to “help you get back on your feet”. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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