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Government to keep wage subsidy scheme levels 'under review', says minister

The scheme is supporting 289,000 workers and 25,800 employers at cost of €414 million, as of last month, said Donohoe.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

FINANCE MINISTER PASCHAL Donohoe has said he believes the levels paid under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme at the moment “are appropriate”. 

However, Donohoe said the government will keep wage subsidy scheme “under review”. 

The rates for the scheme are due to be cut on 1 December.

His remarks come after calls from employers’ group Ibec who have called for the extension of the EWSS beyond April 2022 at the rates that applied during previous waves of Covid-19.

The groups said ongoing supports are now required to preserve businesses and employment as a result of the latest public health guidelines impacting on the experience economy, which is made up of restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, events, retail tourism and other related sectors.

The director of Childhood Services Ireland Darragh Whelan said the Ibec group was calling on the Government to keep the EWSS at its current level.

“Without financial support, childcare services will really struggle to cope. The enhanced level of EWSS supports paid to childcare providers has allowed them to afford the staff required to operate the play pod system.

This has been a hugely effective tactic in stopping the spread of Covid in childcare facilities and with the case numbers rising rapidly, it is more important than ever.

Whelan added: “Further challenges for the sector are emerging as parents are withdrawing their children from childcare, with many now back working remotely. This is putting even more pressure on childcare providers to cope financially.”

He said the group has been engaging with the Department of Children over the past few days on this issue.

The EWSS

Introduced at the start of the pandemic at a time when businesses en masse were being advised to close their doors, the TWSS was aimed at supporting businesses who’d taken a hit due to Covid-19 and support them in keeping workers on their books.

Employers whose turnover had fallen by 25% and over were able to avail of the scheme.

As part of the July Stimulus, the government said it would continue the wage subsidy scheme under a new name: the EWSS.

Donohoe said today that the scheme had been the “cornerstone” of the government’s supports over the last two years. He said the scheme has been “critical” in keeping many small and medium businesses open.

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The scheme is supporting 289,000 workers and 25,800 employers at cost of €414 million, as of last month, said Donohoe.

“I believe at the moment the scheme we have in place is appropriate for the recovery that we still believe will happen in Ireland, even given the recent change in public health regulations last week,” he said.

A Cabinet sub-committee yesterday discussed support measures for the hospitality sector. It was anticipated that the government may pause plans to move to a two-tier payment programme with the EWSS, but no changes were agreed.

The committee also discussed the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), which was cut last week.

There have been calls for the government to reverse this reduction following new measures and public health advice relating to the hospitality sector and socialising.

However the government has indicated it will not reinstate previous rates of PUP.

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