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02.06.2021

Government announces Economic Recovery Plan

By Paul O’Connor

The Government has launched the Economic Recovery Plan (the Plan), setting out a series of measures designed to boost economic activity and get people back to work.

Below are the key points employers and business owners should be mindful of.

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme extended

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will be extended until December 31st, 2021. Existing payment rates will continue for July, August, and September at current turnover thresholds.

The time period for assessment will also be broadened. Currently, a six-month period of assessment is in place but this will increase to 12 months. This will support businesses and their employees through the immediate recovery phase and keep as many workers as possible in the labour market.

Pandemic Unemployment Payment extended

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be extended beyond June 30th, 2021 for existing claimants. The scheme is set to close to new applicants from July 1st.

PUP claims for students will also continue until the start of the 2021/2022 college year (final payment on September 7th). This ensures the scheme aligns with regular circumstances where students do not qualify for unemployment payments while at college.

The current PUP support rates are scheduled to remain in place until September 7th. Following that date, rates will gradually reduce on a phased basis in increments of €50 per week.

If progress continues as expected, two further phases of changes will take place on November 16th and February 8th.

Redundancy claims suspended

The employee right to trigger a redundancy claim following certain periods of lay-off or short-time work due to COVID-19 has been suspended for a final time until September 30th, 2021.

Once the suspension is lifted, eligible employees will be able to make a claim for redundancy to their employer. If a business is not in a position to meet the additional statutory redundancy costs, it can enter a COVID-19 Deferred Payment arrangement. Further details will be negotiated in conjunction with employers and unions.

COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme extended

The COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will be extended beyond June 30th until the end of 2021. Enhanced restart payments of three weeks at double the rate of payment will be made available to support businesses when exiting the scheme and reopening.

The maximum restart payment will increase to €10,000 per week, allowing businesses to receive up to a maximum of €30,000.

New Business Resumption Support Scheme introduced

A new business support scheme, the Business Resumption Support Scheme, will come into effect in September 2021. This scheme will support businesses that have seen turnover significantly reduced as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Small Business Assistance Scheme

The Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID-19 (SBASC) was introduced to help businesses that didn’t qualify for CRSS, the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme, or other direct sectoral grant schemes.

Eligibility for the SBASC for Q2 2021 applications has been broadened in two ways. Businesses with a minimum turnover of €50,000 can benefit from a €4,000 grant, including businesses in nonrated premises. This means that self-employed people working from home who meet eligibility criteria also qualify.

Businesses with a minimum turnover of €20,000 and a maximum turnover of €49,999 can receive a grant of €1,000, with all other SBASC eligibility criteria applying.

Events sector

Pilot events are set to take place during June and July, with several supports available to help the events sector.

The Live Performance Support Scheme will operate in conjunction with a tailored scheme called the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme. This is a new events sector support scheme that has yet to be finalised.

Commercial Rates Waiver extended

The Commercial Rates Waiver will run until the end of September in its current form.

Tax Debt Warehousing Scheme extended

The Tax Debt Warehousing Scheme will continue until the end of 2021 for all eligible taxpayers with an interest-free period during 2022. COVID-related liabilities will then fall to be paid from January 1st, 2023.

9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality

To provide support for the tourism sector, the 9% VAT rate will be extended until September 1st, 2022. Fáilte Ireland will also continue its support initiatives, including through its Business Continuity Scheme or equivalent schemes. 

Helping People Back into Work

Pathways to Work 2021-2025 will help unemployed people get back into work, with a particular focus on youth unemployment. A new EU Reinforced Youth Guarantee process will see increased engagement with young jobseekers, while places on the JobsPlus scheme will increase to 8,000.

The strategy also aims to reduce barriers to the labour market for people with disabilities and lone parents.

Reskilling and Upskilling

An extra 50,000 education and training places will be rolled out as part of the Government’s new Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025. This Plan aims to increase new apprentice registrations to 10,000 per annum by 2025.

Expert advice from Graphite consultants

Graphite consultants are experts in employment law and know how to manage all HR issues that might arise during reopening.

If your business needs help when reopening, contact us on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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