Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that the heightened level of pandemic supports will remain in place until the end of January in line with most recent public health restrictions.
Paschal Donohoe said the Government will monitor the current level of restrictions on a daily basis, but that the plan is not to change restrictions before the end of January.
He told Morning Ireland that the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) can be extended up until the end of April and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) can also be extended to run until April.
These extensions are budgeted for, Mr Donohoe said.
The Minister said that any changes to the schemes depend on the virus, adding that the Government supports are aimed at retaining jobs and helping employers to cope with “the awful economic consequences of the disease”.
Minister Donohoe said today that he is optimistic about economic recovery in 2022, with the rollout of 186,000 vaccines in the last two days.
“We will get to a better point in 2022 with this disease and hopefully the exceptional level of supports can decrease and then be removed,” he added.
The Finance Minister also said that if the EWSS is continued beyond April, he will look to see whether a legal process can be put in place that sees companies who return large profits in some circumstances return the state supports to the Exchequer.
He said that the EWSS entry criteria is dependent on turnover and not profitability, as this is the measure that makes it most likely companies would be viable and could keep people at work.
The only way the Revenue can pursue individuals is if they have breached the criteria for entry, and this does not include levels of profitability, he explained.
He said the EWSS has supported 51,800 employers and 699,000 employees at different points, describing it as “an immensely successful policy at keeping work in the country and allowing for recovery”.
Minister Donohoe said that many companies had returned a profit because they could continue to trade while availing of the EWSS.
Paschal Donohoe said that he would examine whether changes are needed to the scheme and it is hoped “to phase it out in 2022”.