Businesses and employers have made a huge contribution to keeping us safe and now, thanks to your sacrifices, co-operation and the efforts of all our citizens, we are in a position to gradually reopen our economy and society. Our vaccination programme is on schedule. By the end of the week, nearly 3 million doses will have been administered and we expect to have 2.5 million people fully vaccinated by the end of July. We aren’t out of the woods yet and there will be bumps in the road but there is every reason to be hopeful again.
I am writing to you to update you on three things; the re-opening and changes to financial supports, the extension of provisions to allow you carry out certain functions remotely and changes to the Fair Deal.
The Government announced a new Economic Recovery Plan this week, with €4 billion of stimulus to fuel the economy and help you and your business to recover and rebuild. Across 2020 and 2021, €38 billion was provided to help us all to weather the pandemic. This is an unprecedented level of Government spending but we believe the best chance of rapid economic recovery, of returning to full employment, of avoiding tax rises or spending cuts – is for our economy to bounce back fast.
There will be a number of changes to the current financial supports as public health restrictions unwind.
The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will remain in place for businesses that have to stay closed. For businesses re-opening in June and July, you will receive a double payment for the first three weeks upon reopening up to a maximum of €30,000. This will help firms with cashflow and to restock and re-engage with staff.
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is being extended until the end of 2021. Some adjustments are being made to how it is calculated – it will now be based on your business’ earnings for a full 12-month period relative to 2019, rather than 6 months to ensure businesses and workers are supported through the earlier part of the recovery.
The commercial rates waiver will continue in its current form during the third quarter of this year for those availing of it.
The 9% VAT rate will be extended until the 1st of September 2022.
Tax warehousing is being extended until the end of the year and will be interest free in 2022.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be closed for new entrants from July 1st of this year and will be gradually phased out from the 7th of September, so that by early 2022 it will be back in line with the Jobseekers’ Allowance. You can find further information on each of these changes on the gov.ie website.
We will use €950m in EU Recovery grants to fund additional investment in higher and further education, skills, research, the digital transformation and climate action, like retrofitting homes and commuter rail. There will be a special fund of €85m to help enterprises decarbonise and €55m to help you to go digital. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming months.
Furthermore, a new additional, more streamlined business support scheme, the Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS) will be introduced in September 2021 for businesses with very significantly reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions. This will be open to business with and without a rateable premises and will be administered by Revenue in a similar way to the CRSS. Businesses who previously availed of other schemes such as the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC) and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme for example, as well as CRSS will be eligible to apply provided they meet the qualifying criteria. Details on this scheme will be announced closer to the time, but the Government will continue to help those businesses that are particularly challenged through to the end of the year and beyond if needed.
The suspension of section 12A of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 has been extended one last time until the 30th of September at which point employees can trigger a redundancy claim if not taken back on. Companies genuinely unable to pay will be able to get an interest free loan from the Social Insurance Fund.
The provisions to allow your business to hold virtual AGMs and creditor meetings have been extended until the 31st of December 2021. The extension of the period of examinership to 150 days will also remain in place until that date, as will the €50,000 threshold at which a company is deemed unable to pay its debts. We hope the continuation of these important measures will provide additional breathing space to those of you who are struggling. We are also updating the examinership process more generally and are aiming to introduce a new, more accessible and cheaper rescue process for small business before the autumn.
Finally then, I know the Nursing Home Support Scheme, commonly known as the Fair Deal will be of interest to many of you. The Government has sought to design the Scheme in a way that will provide reassurance to people in their old age, while protecting small family business owners and farmers. To alleviate unnecessary financial pressures, we are extending the cap on contributions based on family-owned and family-operated farm and business assets at three years, where a family successor commits within the first three years of the person’s time in care to working the farm or business for a period of six years. This means, regardless of the length of a person’s stay in long-term residential care, the maximum contribution based on the capital value of a business will be 7.5% per year for three years only, where all the conditions of the scheme are complied with. This will provide significant protection for business owners, while ensuring those who need to be cared for in a nursing home receive the help they need.
I want to thank you for all you have done to date and for your continuing efforts in keeping your staff and customers safe. Best of luck in the weeks ahead.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment