Govt extends key economic supports as restrictions continue
The Government has said that measures to support business, jobs and employment are to remain in place until the end of June.
It follows the announcement that Covid level 5 restrictions are to remain in place across a number of sectors for weeks and in some cases months.
The measures include the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) and Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), all of which were due to expire on March 31.
The Covid enhanced illness benefit, which was also due to expire on the same date, has also been extended to June 30.
The Government also said it would conduct an economic assessment of the CRSS around its impact, design and sustainability of the support.
The commercial rates waiver is also to be extended for a further three months for those businesses most seriously affected by the restrictions.
The suspension of redundancy provisions, which was due to expire on March 31, has also been extended to June 30, in order to help avoid further permanent job losses, the Government said.
Other state supports, such as loans, grants, vouchers and schemes for business affected by the pandemic are to remain open and under review.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the cost of the PUP and the EWSS is currently running at €200m a week.
In a statement to RTÉ News, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said almost €1.1bn has been spent on the PUP this year to date, compared to a Budget allocation of €600m.
Up to last week, €600m has been spent on the EWSS out of a Budget day allocation of €1.1bn.
This means that to date, the combined expenditure on both schemes is €1.7bn out of a combined allocation of €1.8bn.
The statement goes on to say that “…as we move forward through March and quarter two, additional expenditure will need to be met by reallocating from the Contingency Funds.”
The Contingency Funds include just over €2bn for a Covid 19 Contingency Reserve and €3.4bn earmarked for an economic Recovery Fund.
The statement says “…the extent of the demand on these funds in quarter two will depend on the situation with the virus and the restrictions in place.”
– additional reporting Robert Shortt