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Donohoe says no decision made yet on extending wage subsidy scheme

The Minister for Finance said he understood the need for clarity on the scheme for businesses going forward.

Ministers Eoghan Murphy, Paschal Donohoe and Heather Humphreys at a press conference today.
Ministers Eoghan Murphy, Paschal Donohoe and Heather Humphreys at a press conference today.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

MINISTER FOR FINANCE Paschal Donohoe has said that the government is aware that “further decisions” will be needed in relation to the Covid Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, but no decision has been made yet to extend it. 

So far, 49,000 employers have signed up to the wage subsidy scheme where the government pays 70% (or in some cases 85%) of a worker’s wages for companies adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme aims to keep employees on the books for the duration of the crisis by paying a subsidy equal to up to 70% of an employee’s take home pay, up to €410 a week.

It was introduced on 26 March for a period of 12 weeks.

However, after the government published its roadmap for the Irish economy to reopen again last night, it became clear that many businesses will be unable to return to normal trading by the time the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme expires in mid-June. 

Speaking today when announcing new supports for businesses, Minister Donohoe said the wage subsidy scheme was something the government was looking at.

“I’m absolutely aware of the approaching end point for those schemes, and also aware of the huge value that they are playing in supporting many companies still be viable and employing citizens today,” he said.

The government today in our discussion did acknowledge that we will need to make further decisions in relation to that scheme and how it interacts with the pandemic unemployment payment. But those decisions have not yet been taken.

Donohoe added he understood the need to get clarity in advance of that end date on the future of the scheme. 

This scheme and the Covid Unemployment Payment supports could cost the government nearly €5 billion in three months, according to a report from the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI). 

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Sean Murray

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